As a result of their cancer, cancer survivors often suffer from obstacles to their access to financial services, such as health insurance or bank loan contracts, owing to the frequent obligation to disclose full medical history when applying to them. This financial discrimination worsens the socioeconomic burden placed on cancer survivors and hampers their reintegration into society.
Against this background, the European cancer community has been unanimously calling to cancer survivors to be recognised a “Right to Be Forgotten”, meaning the right for them not to inform financial service providers of their past diagnosis and treatment.
Last week, following up on the announcement of an agreement reached by the Dutch Council of Ministers in August 2020, the Netherlands confirmed that it will implement the Right to Be Forgotten by law on 1 January 2021. The corresponding provision has been published in the Official Gazette of the Netherlands and is available here (in Dutch).
The Netherlands will be the fourth EU Member State to recognise this right, following France, Belgium and Luxemburg. Under the new law, cancer survivors will free not to declare their cancer to financial service providers 10 years after the end of their treatment; for those diagnosed with cancer before the age of 21, this period is reduced to 5 years.
Csaba Dégi, Co-Chair of the European Cancer Organisation’s Survivorship and Quality of Life Network, said:
“Financial discrimination is a particularly harsh and unjust obstacle faced by cancer survivors, having detrimental consequences across so many aspects of their personal and professional lives after cancer. As a psycho-oncologist, I see every day the vicious circle it contributes to, coming on top of other long-term impacts of cancer, and culminating in yet further distress for cancer survivors and their families. I am therefore delighted that Netherlands have confirmed the implementation of the right to be forgotten for cancer survivors from January 2021. Freedom from financial discrimination as a result of having had cancer should be a new social right across the EU.”
Andrew Davies, Co-Chair of the European Cancer Organisation’s Survivorship and Quality of Life Network, said:
“The right for cancer survivors to have their previous diagnosis and treatment forgotten when it comes to their interactions with financial service providers is something every country in Europe can do right now to improve the lives of every cancer survivor. France, Belgium, Luxembourg and now the Netherlands have shown how very achievable and practical this kind of legislative initiative is. I repeat the call of our recent report “Free From Cancer”. Make the right to be forgotten a protection for cancer survivors in every European country.”
The European Cancer Organisation has been persistently advocating for all cancer survivors to be protected from any form of stigma and discrimination, including of financial nature, notably through: