Background It is vital for people with rheumatic diseases to have a suitable healthcare plan in order to cover essential healthcare that is critical to maintain health and quality of life, to treat rheumatic diseases and to prevent high medical costs. Despite the urgency, finding a suitable healthcare plan is complicated: there are many options to choose and healthcare plans differ in coverage of rheumatic disease-specific healthcare (such as physical therapy, foot care and spa therapy), price, medical selection and provider network. Also the time to decide whether to change their healthcare insurer or plan is limited. Consequently, people may decide not to change their healthcare plan at all, at the risk of having an unsuitable healthcare plan in relation to the care they need and paying unnecessarily high medical costs. By developing tools and information, we tried to help people with rheumatic diseases finding a suitable healthcare plan in that short time limit.
Objectives The purpose of this project was to make it less complicated for Dutch people with rheumatic diseases to find a personal healthcare plan which covers their personal needs for healthcare.
Methods Through patient consultation (a survey) we got more insight in the needs, experiences and wishes among rheumatic disease-specific healthcare and healthcare plans. We analyzed the composition, price and conditions of individual healthcare plans concerning rheumatic disease-specific care. We analyzed the reimbursements of healthcare that is essential for patients with a rheumatic disease. In line with this we developed tools.
Results The survey (n=1420) showed that people with rheumatic diseases want: 1. more information about reimbursement of rheumatic disease-specific healthcare, in particular physical therapy, medication and foot care. 2. more insight in personal health needs 3. an aid to compare healthcare plans and find a healthcare plan that fits personal health and budget needs.
Responding to these outcomes we developed three tools:
1. A “checklist” to make an overview of personal health and budget needs. People can fill in the checklist on their own or together with their care provider(s).
2. A “healthcare plan comparison tool” for comparing healthcare plans on rheumatic disease-specific care and finding a healthcare plan that matches with personal health and budget needs.
3. The checklist and the healthcare plan comparison tool are integrated in the “Roadmap healthcare plans”. This roadmap guides people through the process of finding a suitable healthcare plan in 5 steps. In addition to these tools, we updated our online information about rheumatic disease-specific healthcare.
Conclusions In response to the tools, we received positive reactions from people with rheumatic diseases. Local patient organizations paid attention to the tools as well. We think we made a step forward by launching interactive tools. With individual needs as a starting point, people can compare healthcare plans. Nevertheless, the Dutch system of healthcare plans is still complex and our information is still extensive. For the Dutch Arthritis Foundation it's important to keep paying attention to useful information and tools for people with rheumatic diseases.
Disclosure of Interest None declared
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