A Dutch insurance firm plans to offer special healthcare policies for gay and lesbian clients.

A spokesperson for the insurance company AGIS told Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) that the policy had been worked out in co-operation with the COC Dutch LGBT rights group, and will be available from the beginning of 2008.

Dawn Betteridge, Social Services Director at the Schorer Foundation, which offers advice and information to Dutch LGBT people told RNW:

“Options are always a good idea, different people, different needs. And however we can highlight whatever specifically plays a role for gay and lesbian people the better.

“We also need to start thinking about health a little bit more broadly than just in terms of medical health. For gays and lesbians in particular that also stretches into mental health, and we may be able to say then that there’s more of a need for certain groups of people than for others, based on the level of discrimination that they face.”

Betteridge added that one of the problems that gay and lesbian patients often face in the healthcare system is the assumption that they are heterosexual. In this respect, she says, the new policy will have an important educational effect.

A simple question from a doctor, for example, to a lesbian woman about whether or not she is using the contraceptive pill will set a tone for future discussions that she is going to have with that healthcare professional.

“It can start on that kind of level, a very simple level of how do you start to develop a trusting relationship with a healthcare provider. You start building a trust relationship and that relationship can be the most important factor in your healthcare.”

In addition to alerting care providers to patient’s sexuality, the policy may offer more specific benefits as well, with access to clinics and practitioners that are especially welcoming to gay clients, and recognition of same-sex partnerships.

All Dutch residents are expected to choose a private insurance company to cover both the obligatory basic package of health insurance and any extra medical care an individual may want to have covered.

In an effort to attract clients, insurance companies in The Netherlands frequently come up with targeted policies – and now Agis is leading the way as the first company to target the ‘pink euro.’