Recently a tweet containing a video from a Dutch tv-show about Down syndrome caused a lot of turmoil on Twitter. Since the content of the video was taken out of context, we would like to clarify the situation.
The video was part of a tv show called The Last Downer (De Laatste Downer) from the Evangelical Broadcasting service (EO). On twitter it is suggested that RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment calculates what someone with Down syndrome is costing society or that we put a price tag on human life. This is not the case: the calculation is about actual health care spending and we do this for many conditions, not just Down syndrome. Every four years, RIVM calculates the total Dutch healthcare spending per condition or illness. This varies from cancer to dementia, from heart disease to mental illness and from ADHD to diabetes (96 conditions/illnesses in total). The goal of the study is to determine the demands on health care resources caused by condition, age and gender. The data from this study are used to plan for future demand, so the necessary resources for the treatment of specific diseases will be available in time. This way the Netherlands invest in proper health care for everyone, fitting the open and inclusive society we aim to be.
As a side note: Similar calculations are done in other countries and published for instance by the OECD: www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/estimating-expenditure-by-disease-age-and-gender.htm