Abstract

This article presents various developments in Dutch health care policy toward a greater role for individual financial responsibility, such as cost-control measures, priority setting, rationing, and market reform. Instead of the collective responsibility that is characteristic of previous times, one can observe in government policies an increased emphasis on the need for individuals to take care of one’s own health and health care needs. Moreover, surveys point to decreasing levels of public support for “unlimited” solidarity and “irresponsible” health behavior. This article attempts to answer the question of how these policies and public attitudes are limiting the ethical principles of solidarity and equal access to care that have long guided Dutch health care policy making. The authors argue that from a moral point of view, the increased emphasis on individual responsibility is acceptable as long as it does not affect solidarity with those weak and vulnerable groups who are not able to take individual responsibility, such as the demented and mentally handicapped.

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