NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 21, 2007

Ab Klink, the Dutch health minister, is considering a recommendation to offer free health insurance for life to anyone who donates a kidney for transplant.  The initiative has been prompted by a chronic shortage of organ donors in the Netherlands, says the London Times.

A survey commissioned by the Erasmus medical centre in Rotterdam suggested that the idea would enjoy significant support:

  • Up to 15 percent of the public said they would probably be willing to donate a kidney if they received compensation.
  • Potential donors were asked whether they would prefer €50,000 (about U.S. $74,000) or free health insurance; up to 80 percent chose the insurance.

A leak of the proposal recently sparked a debate in the Dutch press as to whether it represented the first step towards a trade in human organs.  Critics warned that it may put pressure on poorer people to give up their organs.

But others say the scheme could help alleviate one of the longest waiting lists for kidneys in Europe.  Bernadette Haase, the director of the Dutch Transplant Foundation, said: "If it is properly run and well organized, it could be a solution."  Currently, about 200 Dutch people die each year while waiting for a new kidney.

Source: Nicola Smith and Aaron Gray-Block, "Dutch may give financial reward to kidney donors," London Times, November 18, 2007.

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