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Rejected by twenty GPs and a huge bill from the emergency department
International students are having difficulty registering with Rotterdam general…
Students who only look for a doctor when they get ill often end up in A&E because GPs have no room for them. Students who try and register with a doctor before they get ill are often told that there are no places or that they can only register as ‘passers-by’.
That is an extra obstacle for students to go to the doctor because as passers-by they have to pay in advance, despite having the right insurance. With good insurance, they can claim the care afterwards. Due to these advance payments, students still tend to visit the doctor less quickly or even fly back to their home country for care.
The university recognises the problems that students have finding a doctor. “We hear these signals at central level – the International Office, the deans and the psychologists – and also from the international offices of the faculties and various student associations”, a university spokesperson confirmed. EUR does not know the extent of the problem. No figures are kept.
Shortage and reluctance
Interviews with an insurer, international students, GPs and the umbrella association of general practitioners in the Netherlands show that the problem has various causes. In part, it is due to students themselves but other factors play a role as well, according to the various parties involved.
On the one hand, international students end up in a care system that they consider complex. They receive information about it, but because of all the arrangements that need to be made, insurance is sometimes forgotten, according to Arti Pancham of AON, the largest supplier of private insurance to international students. “When you’re young, you don’t always realise that you can also get ill”, adds Rotterdam GP practice manager Yolande Pleune.
On the other hand, Rotterdam is struggling with a shortage of general practitioners, which affects international students even more than the people of Rotterdam. GPs tend to register international students as passers-by and many GPs in the centre are dealing with a patient stop. And because it is so busy, there is sometimes little time left for passers-by. Moreover, international students add to their administrative burden, because they often have a different type of insurance and may only stay for a few years, making some GPs reluctant to take them on.
Better information for students and doctors
The university is discussing with AON whether there is a role that it can play. “Examples include simplifying administration for private insurance, better information for healthcare providers about how such insurance works or better information for students about accessing healthcare”, says a university spokesperson.
In response to questions from the CDA and GroenLinks, the municipality says it is working on mapping out the Rotterdam GP problem and possible solutions.