SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Health minister Edith Schippers has been advised not to include a test to screen embryos for birth defects such as Down’s syndrome in the basic healthcare package for all women, the Volkskrant reports.
The NIPT test is a DNA test on maternal blood to screen pregnancies for the most common fetal chromosome anomalies and is said to be 99% accurate for Down’s. The minister had asked the National Healthcare Institute, the body that looks into what should be covered by health insurance, about the feasibility of including the non-invasive test.
According to the institute, the test should remain free for women who are at risk but not for women who do not present a proven risk. It does not give an opinion about the future financing of the test for women who fall into the latter category.
At present women who want the test but are not at proven risk pay €175 towards the true cost of €500. The rest of the money comes from a special subsidy which will run until 2020 and costs an estimated €26m a year.
Parliament decides on which procedures are covered by the basic health package every year and the decision to include the test or extend the subsidy will have to be made in two years’ time.
The national Healthcare Institute’s evaluation carries much political weight, and comes at a time of numerous formation snags, the Volkskrant writes. Christian parties ChristenUnie, CDA and SGP are strongly opposed to a test for all women.
The parties think its ready availability will lead to a ‘Downs free’ society in which parents feel they must justify the birth of a child with a birth defect, the paper said. VVD and D66 support the availability of a test for all women. (DutchNews)