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How much is a life worth?

An emotional debate is underway in the Netherlands over the value of a human life. On Sunday, a Dutch health insurance body announced that it was recommending that certain expensive drugs no longer be covered.

The move would affect Milou and her brother Jonas, who both have Pompe disease. They'll need lifelong treatment to survive, but their medicine costs up to 700,000 euros each annually. In the United States, the drug costs half that price.

Opposition parties are up in arms about the recommendation. They plan to ask the minister to reject it. But some politicians point out that the rapidly rising cost of health care is going to force the Dutch, as a society, to begin a fundamental discussion about the issues involved.

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This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011 Dutch government’s decided to cut funding and shift RNW in 2013 from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW’s current activities can be found at http://www.rnw.org/about-rnw