Netherlands

Change has already come in The Netherlands.

The social security system in this country is designed to encourage persons with disabilities (PWDs) here to keep working and earn their keep. As a result, disability rates have gone down from 100,000 in 2000 to 21,000 in 2006. The disability risk has decreased, too: from 1.55 in 2000 to 0.46 in 2006.

Employers, on the other hand, are required to monitor their sick employees’ sick leave; hold a sick worker’s job open for two years; develop, finance, and implement plans for rehabilitation; pay for certain medical treatments; make workplace accommodations; and find new jobs for the workers they no longer have a commensurable employment to give. They must contract with private companies in fulfilling these tasks in exchange of incentives a “differentiated system of contributions” will bring.

Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution prohibits discrimination on any grounds. So The Netherlands has taken precautionary measures to curb unnecessary medical treatment. It has invested and improved the cooperation of the occupational safety and health care providers and the medical care providers to, in effect, prevent work-related health conditions and promote reintegration.

Stipulated on December 1, 2003, the Act on Equal Treatment of the Disabled and Chronically Ill People has banned making distinctions in the recruitment of people in the country, may they be with disabilities or not. The law also gives disabled people the right to the adaptations necessary to enable them to participate fully in society.

Care, support, and treatment for PWDs here are funded through public health insurance1. Accessibility is also mandated2 and “special benefits” are given3. PWDs here have also somewhere to go to if they need help in re-entering the job market4.

The Netherlands is also “efficient” in screening “applicants’ to avoid providing benefits to healthy recipients and denying benefits to unhealthy applicants5. A citizen can only be marked as “fully disabled” if their impairments are terminal, if their “theoretical loss of income” is greater than 80%, if they require institutionalization, or if they are already in “steep decline”6.

“When you hear the word ‘disabled,’ people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted. But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter.” ~ Teri Garr

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Kanaal van Ambassadeur2009 

1Exceptional Medical Expenses Act (AWBZ)

2Act on Facilities for the Disabled

3Disablement Benefits Act (WAO); Self-Employed Persons Disablement Benefits Act (WAZ); Disablement Assistance Act for Handicapped Young Persons (WAJONG)

4Disability Reintegration Act (REA)

5Source: Enrica Croda, Jonathan Skinner, and Laura Yasaitis, “An International Comparison of the Efficiency of Government Disability Programs” (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2013), pp. 1, 29

6Source: “Work and Income According to the Labor Capacity Act,” Dutch Social Insurance Institute (WIA), May 11, 2015, and personal correspondence with Carla van Deaursen, senior advisor, UWV, May 18, 2015

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