In December 2014 José Boekelmans, an edema therapist who also has lipedema, started a petition to rally up support to have the costs for liposuction in case of lipedema covered by health insurance in the Netherlands. She had the support of 2 TV personalities, connected to the TV show Geld maakt gelukkig (Money can make you happy). In this show people can present their case for which they need money and what would truly make a difference in their lives. The studio audience then votes how a sum of money is to be divided between the three candidates.
José put herself out there to get funds for liposuction treatment, but also to point out how ludicrous it is that a treatment for medical purposes is not covered. Just because it was originally invented for cosmetic purposes, which is currently being held against lipedema patients who seek ways to improve mobility and reduce pain.The co-hosts of the show shared her frustration and sense of injustice, but felt lipedema patients also needed to step up and fight harder for coverage. José proceeded by starting this petition.
The idea was to present the results during the elections in the Netherlands, earlier this month. Right after the show she got a fair number of signatures. Even if you don’t read Dutch: if you click on the link, the little graph on the right speaks volumes. Soon the number of people signing plummeted. By the time the elections came, there was not much to present to members of parliament, with not even 2000 signatures.
You can argue the job was a little big for just one person and not even the TV personalities managed to create more media coverage around this. But…when she asked for help nobody offered. Many were reluctant to even share the petition on social media. And so the petition didn’t fly.
Many patients can’t afford liposuction, but would like to have liposuction treatment. Because of this I would expect a little more eagerness in trying to round up signatures. If we can’t muster the courage to convince our friends and family to sign, how can we expect complete strangers to be understanding and supportive of our struggle with lipedema? Unfortunately we will need to put ourselves out there and raise awareness, if we want recognition, coverage of medical expenses and respect. We need to get the word out there. Even if that’s scary.
Maybe it’s not too late. If you’re from the Netherlands and see the potential of this petition… Well, just think about it. It could still work.