Netherlands has best healthcare system in Europe

28th September 2009, Comments 32 comments

The Netherlands retains its leading position as the top healthcare system in Europe.

The Netherlands – The Netherlands has been named as having the best healthcare system in Europe in the 2009 Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI).

This is the second year in a row the Netherlands came in first in the healthcare study. Its leading position is followed by Denmark, Iceland and Austria.

The index which compares the healthcare systems of 32 European countries started in 2005. It is published by the Health Consumer Powerhouse of Sweden supported by the European Commission.

The EHCI rates the public health services of 32 European countries on the basis of six criteria regarded as important to consumers. These are patient rights and information, e-health, waiting times for treatment, outcomes, range and reach of services provided and pharmaceuticals.
Dr Arne Bjornberg of the Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP) said the Netherlands has found a successful approach to public healthcare with a competitive system of financing care. It was also praised for its minimal bureaucracy and the patient empowerment.
The HCP said while most European countries have carried out reforms in their healthcare systems, healthcare continues to deteriorate in countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece. Health services in eastern and central Europe have also suffered from the recession.
Radio Netherlands / Expatica

32 Comments To This Article

  • Pepe posted:

    on 20th November 2013, 18:07:47 - Reply

    WHAT???? are you kidding me? Coming for a country like Spain, the dutch healthcare system is nothing but a bad joke.
  • Katerina1 posted:

    on 24th July 2011, 03:52:12 - Reply

    Hi, I read your comments very carefully because I am willing to relocate in the Netherlands, and believe me, I start to think of relocating in Belgium instead. I have a cyst in my ovaries, neck pain and iron deficiency and I don't think I will survive there. I have to do ultrasounds regurarly and take iron supplements. I am against medicines and I follow alternative remedies like homeopathy so I would like to hear your experiences on this if anyone has any. It sounds that it is a bit more of a "giving or not antibiotics to the patient" problem. As I am about to leave in a month or so, I am seriously considering postponing this due to what I am reading. i will try to get in touch with Greek people who live there (I am Greek) and ask them about their experience. By the way my sister is pregnant and she freaked out when she heard that they give birth at home, that you don't actually have the choice to get pain killers and that they do inadequate tests during the pregnancy. My sister went to gynaekologist at least once a month during her pregnancy. What happens if something goes wrong during delivering? You are at home, not in the hospital, you can't get much help at home. It sounds really, really frightening. I know that my country doesn't have the best health system of all but this sounds a lot worse.
  • Ann posted:

    on 6th June 2010, 00:06:13 - Reply

    I can only agree to the comments above stating that the Dutch health system must be in a desolate state when you see how doctors here are treating (or rather *not* treating) patients in the Netherlands.

    I have been here for a few years now and can only strongly advise other expats to leave the country as soon as you need anything more than a paracetamol or an aspirin. It might be saving you time and trouble, or even your life in some cases.

    It seems ridiculous that GPs even need to study to become doctors in the Netherlands. In all cases that I encountered, they did not even care to do the most basic examinations that are standard procedure in other Western and most "third world" countries.

    When asked by the patient or family why no treatment is offered, Dutch GPs or doctors in hospitals mostly defend their system aggressively and will start a more or less arrogant lecture as to why they believe that things are done in the wrong way "in YOUR country", and why the Dutch health system is so much better.
    " We do not treat this in the Netherlands. Take a paracetamol and go home. Or, "we do not prescribe Antibiotics in the Netherlands..ect etc"
    In all cases, the doctors seemed more interested in defending their glorious Dutch healthcare system as in the patient's well-being.

    I recently had a visit from a family member here in the Netherlands and she came down with a severe bacterial throat infection. She was of course- not treated, but lectured condescendingly by the Dutch GP in above-mentioned fashion, and sent home with a paracetamol. As she rapidly got worse, I brought her back home (outside the Netherlands) where the doctor could not believe that she had been sent home without antibiotics. He said that of course antibiotics need to be prescribed only in cases when it is really necessary, but that in this case, it was absolutely irresponsible of the hospital to send the patient home without any treatment whatsoever and especially, without antibiotics.
    And I do agree on what proteus and JadEd said: It does seem to be some kind of peculiar sheep mentality and "not knowing any better" on part of the Dutch, their doctors, and anyone living here who still believes that this far less than mediocre system is the "top healthcare system in Europe". Ridiculous.
  • Ross posted:

    on 1st June 2010, 21:33:31 - Reply

    It is funny that you are the only one person supporting such mediocre health system. Even in the UK you can find a much better service, in particular taking into account that you don't have to pay for health care since it is provided by the NHS, it is not private. Even if you are not working and pay taxes, everybody is entitled to the service, so it is tremendously absourd that you intend to make a comparison when both systems are not rooted on the same basis. One is private (NL) and the other is public (UK)
  • Marlene Johnson posted:

    on 23rd October 2009, 15:53:01 - Reply

    Perhaps I am in the minority but...I have been here 13 years and I can well believe that the survey is correct. Why? Well the system is set up (might not work in all gemeente's) in a way so that everyone has access to health care as health insurance is reasonably priced for most people. I live in an area where we have a health centre that covers everything, from dentist to physio, to social workers etc. My family of 4 pays 3 hundred and something for our insurance per month but we are covered for glasses, physio, thuiszorg and just about everything. I had one child in the UK and one here and my experience here was much better. Non invasive and I got a nurse to come to my home to help me for about a week and that was covered by the insurance. As expats you have to do your homework. We have a diabetic in our family, an epileptic and someone who has had back problems and we are more than happy with the care we get compared to family in the UK and NA. Our first dentist was a joke and we left him and the one we have now is excellent. You are also not given as much medicines as you get in other countries and that takes some getting used to. You also have to be quite assertive and insist on tests and things if you are worried as yes, Dutch doctors tens to give paracetamols a lot. LOL. BUT, if you build up a good relationship with the health professionals then you will have a positive experience. We have found that referrals etc. have gone smoothly. I waited just 8 weeks for minor surgery and my daughter who was referred to a mouth surgeon by her orthodontist was given an appointment 5 weeks after the initial appointment. Her orthodontal fees were taken care of by the insurance and and my sister in the UK couldn't believe that her braces etc. all got reimbursed. This is because children up to 18 are free when on the same insurance as their parents. At the beginning we didn't understand that we had to send all our bills to the insurance to be reimbursed so we found it expensive but once you get to grips with the system it is excellent. So I can't agree with all the disscenting voices because my experince is that the system is outstanding.
  • Ken posted:

    on 10th October 2009, 15:41:12 - Reply

    This survey is clearly not asking the right questions. The main problem here is that the GP system is designed to limit our access to health care. I have lived across 3 continents, but this is the only country where my doctors receptionist will telephonically deny me an appointment for my sick child and recommend paracetamol (the dutch wonderdrug) instead. Too ridiculous for words!!
  • Jeremy posted:

    on 7th October 2009, 11:45:05 - Reply

    Well, don't forget - just last week someone told us that Dutch cheese is the best in Europe !!!
  • whomever posted:

    on 1st October 2009, 22:26:29 - Reply

    There's just a question WHO sponsored that "report, Dutch GPs?
    I have experienced such a situation that after visiting 2 GPs, 2 hospitals checks ( with all possible equpments and tests) my newborn baby almost passed away because NO ONE could see she has a "liesbreuk".
    Fortunately ONE WISE suregon at AMC, just getting out of last operation that day, simply pressed my baby's belly. And she woke up! The lack of knowlegde is one thing, second is the REFUSAL to let you go to soemone who knows. And you know why? Because first it shows their incompetence, and secondly it's gonna cost MONEY" and Dutch
    health insuranc comapnies known for their scroogeism (?)
  • Martin posted:

    on 1st October 2009, 17:40:33 - Reply

    This is not true. This health-care system is disaster, doctors are undereducated. They just looks how to put some poison in you. Nobody take care about cause of the problem.
  • Jannick75 posted:

    on 1st October 2009, 14:57:28 - Reply

    To M A Janssen,

    Here is my contact email if you want to address me directly:

  • Jannick75 posted:

    on 1st October 2009, 14:53:32 - Reply

    To( M A Janssen),
    I am interested to how did you get off medicine and how did work for you with your GP from Singapore. I am interested since my brother got epilepsy at the age of 28, the doctor told him that he always had it but now the symptoms started to appear. It seems that he has to take medicine for the rest of his life according to the GP who diagnosed him, the medicine seems to have side effects like loosing hair and son on ... I am very interested to hear your story and to know if this could help my brother.

    Thank you,
  • estrumf posted:

    on 1st October 2009, 11:09:09 - Reply

    That’s why Dutch people go out of Netherlands to have treatments! Ok they are right, for the system is great, only for the huisarts to protect government. Not for patients. We pay health insurance and depending on the price you got the treatment and right at the hospital!! Like in United States! If you don’t have an insurance the government don’t give you the right to be treated or gives you a bill of thousands Euros! Is funny how the cheaper insurance doesn’t either covers dentist! We can see by their tooth. Terrible! They give paracetamol to everything! Loll like they even from the cheapest ones to expensive ones... It depends of your illness! LOL! I didn’t know that paracetamol have different percentages to different illness! Interesting that this wasn’t on TV news or newspapers! I think their studies are based on our reactions! LOL that’s it! And until they have the worst health care system in world they write it the best ones in Europe so they know what to change in their own system for free! Think about it! Loosers!
  • A de Groot posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 21:17:30 - Reply

    I find this very surprising, when just days ago it was in a catagory \"C\", \"A\" being the best rating and that Austria was one of the best one. Besides, it is known that Holland has the highest death rate in Europe of babies during birth.

    Again, I must take this with a grane of salt, being a Dutchman myself and have seen enough in my friends and family circles dealing with the Dutch helathcare system, with their waiting lists for surguries. In 2005 a doctor in The Hague, failed to diagnose a young 26 Columbian mother of a then 6 year old daughter, of an acute appendix infection. He just said it is a flu just take asperine and take your rest. In the next few days the appendix exploded and she died in the hospital, a senseless death leaving behind a 6 year old beautiful girl, now being raised by her hardworking grandmother. In the US this doctor would have lost his license, this one does not even lie awake at night and continues to practice as if nothing happened. Just an \"Oh well\". The best healthcare in Europe. I highly doubt it.
  • PaulD posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 17:21:23 - Reply

    Sorry, I would suggest that the last report from the WHO is more reflective, where The Netherlands was ranked at #19 in the world, one above the Solomon Islands and two below Morocco. France was #1 in the world with Italy being #2. There are a total of 8 other European countries ahead of Holland, which is probably somewhat more accurate.
  • JadeEd posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 16:52:15 - Reply

    proteus I think you bring up a good point and I have echoed your very words. I have talked to many Dutch and they think this type of care is great. It is what I call the sheep mentality. They don't want to worry about it, that is too much stress.
    Upon asking a Dutch man if he felt it was good enough for his wife and baby to not have 24 hour emergency medicine his reply was if they say it is usually okay than why should I worry. They just listen eat the BS and nod their heads.
    I was in shock when I learned that there is a skeleton staff after midnight to 7am. That they must page an ambulance, surgerons etc to the hospital in the even of an emergency! I was told not to worry it usually only takes about 30 minutes!
    My feeling was 30 freaking minutes is too too long!
  • Sushant Gupta posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 15:42:30 - Reply

    I seriously doubt the survey. Dutch people have been increasingly going to Belgium and even France to get treatment as the waiting lists are too long. Also the bureaucracy is too much as you cant move a finger without the "Huisarts" prescriptions and the Insurance premiums are way off the charts.
    Belgium is way ahead in a lot of these things.
  • proteus posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 15:39:44 - Reply

    Maybe it is a perception problem? If I understand correctly, the study's results are based on how consumers rate the medical system in their own country. Maybe the Dutch really think their system is OK because they don't know any better... Maybe they really think that 6 months waiting list to see an oftalmologist is fine - and hoping that you can actually still see in 6 months. Maybe they can really give a full background to a complex medical problem in just 10 minutes. Maybe the Dutch Paracetamol is indeed a miraculous drug which can grow bones and cure cancer. Maybe the Dutch brains do indeed resist to a higher fever than the rest of us. Who am I to argue?!?... Oh wait, I'm the one paying the doctors' salaries. Darn!
  • Divo posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 14:35:42 - Reply

    What you get in real life can be completety different from what the numbers say. I was in favor of the dutch system till my second son was number. He had asthma, I brought him 4 times either to hospital or to my family doctor while on an asthma attack and the answers were always as simple as the average dutch human brain : take him back. a bit aspirin will do. Fortunately, in one of the attacks I was abroad and of course a sensitive doctor of a medically civilized meditterenean place (which probably ranks much lower in the above mentioned survey) detected his asthma right away. The problem with those statistics is that they are made by bureaucrats which look into stupid numbers/economics and issues such as sensitive doctor are not taken into account.Medicine is not just numbers!! I am sure that dutch health care is not losing money but is this the issue with medicine?
  • verena posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 14:21:19 - Reply

    thisnmust be a joke
  • towel lady posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 13:47:59 - Reply

    I find the Dutch medical practices really lacking for a westernized country and to say that they are the best in Europe is a huge joke and disservice to the Dutch people! Having lived in Amsterdam for 3 years, I can attest that all of my experiences with doctors and medical practices in general were far from the best in Europe! My daughter broke her arm, she didn't get a cast initially because the doctor didn't feel the break was severe enough to warrant a cast. I had to take her to the local ER and demand to have a cast put on it! I got bronchitis that they refused to give me antibiotics and gave me some kind of inhaler which didn't get me well at all. I went back to the US for a wedding and my sisters made me go to the ER. I had walking pneumonia! A friend of mine suffered with this same bronchial infection but by the time she went back to the US to get the antibiotics she needed because her Huisarts refused to prescribe them, she had a massive lung infection that required her to get IV antibiotics and a 5 day hospital stay! My personal favorite is my experience getting my endometrium infused. When I got to the room to have the procedure...a Dutch film crew was waiting to film me. The doctor didn't want to tell me she and my endometrium were being filmed for the Dutch health channel as she was afraid I might not show up! Lucky for her that I was a teacher and felt I was educating the public. However, what I didn't realize was that they don't provide you with drapes to cover your privates and politely had to ask for a towel as I had quite the audience in my room. The doctor of course complied but...brought me a frickin washcloth! From that point on...I always brought a towel with me to the hospital!! I can honestly state that I truly don't think that I would have experienced any of that in the US!
  • M A Janssen posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 13:31:36 - Reply

    I echo everyone else's negative comments about this having gone thru some kind of hell of my own. I have epilepsy, have had it for 20 years and for the last 8 yrs since I have been here, I have seen at least 5 different neurologists and each time I visit them, I have to tell my whole medical background all over again eventhough it might all be in my 'dossier'. During my pregnancy, they told me to go off my meds for fear of harm to the foetus and when I hesitated, they even used threatening language like 'if something happens to you, we can't be responsible'. It worked, I got off my meds and then went back on them again after my daughter's birth but then spent next 4 1/2 years with various medical problems including a 40 kg weight gain because my body wasn't used to the meds anymore. I tried to tell it all to the doctors over many no. of visits but they just didn't listen. After my daughter was in school full-time I felt confident enough to go off my meds for good with the help of my family doctor from SIngapore. In the meantime, they had built a brand new 'ziekenhuis' here in Sittard-Geleen but on my first visit to the neurologist, she could only spare me 15 minutes and chased me through my story. She assured me that she would help me and that I wouldn't have to change neurologists anymore but I was really fed up. I stopped going to her altogether and I stopped taking my meds too. Fortunately, I am doing fine and I hope I never have to set foot in the hospital again unless my hair is on fire!

    I thought I was alone in this and it is relieving to find out that this is a national problem. Though they won't be quick to admit it, I have met several Dutch natives, including my sister in law, who changed doctors and/or visited Belgium instead for their medical grouses because they just didn't get the help they needed here. They might have first class equipment and all the latest in the medical technology but all of that is useless when served with third world standards. If I ever do get sick again, I'd sooner fly back to my homeland then go through the doctors here again.
  • JadeED posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 12:42:21 - Reply

    These surveys are a joke! I ignore them! I swear they only publish this junk to convince the sheep that all is great in NL. The Dutch Health Care System is below any health care system I have been involved with. I had better care in Mexico City. The GP and so called specialist know very little. I tend to have more education than they do. When doctors ask me how I know something I say ever here of google??? It's is pretty bad when I as a lay person I can find more info and have more info than the so called doctors. However I would trust the French and Germans over the Dutch anyday. In fact I go to Germany when I need something important taken care of.
    What to think of a system with little to not any Emergency medicine and that still has one of the higest infant mortality rates in Europe?
  • Expat posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 12:19:53 - Reply

    I do not believe a word of what this report says. I have lived in this country for more than 4 years and I found this report a complete LIE!
    I am from Spain, and I do feel 1,000,000 times better treated there than in The Netherlands.
    I do rely on Spanish health system workers and on the Spanish SOCIAL way of dealing with a PERSON, not with a number, like here.
    To have the most modern buildings or medical infrastructure does not always matter as much as the TALENT of the people, their willingness to help and to give hope to the patients, to give warmness and a human approach to their sufferings and to their particular situation.
    This is surely not taken into account into this report.

    The Netherlands with the best healthcare system in Europe?
    Come on, NO WAY. I said: no way.
  • Jannick75 posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 11:51:00 - Reply

    I agree with the responses above. Waiting time is too long. I have to wait two month to get an appointment to check my ear for Tinnitus. The GP tried few tricks but it was in vain ( that was OK compared to my previous GP; he has no clue). Later he just gave me a number to call and that it. After two months of waiting for my appointment with the specialist in the hospital, they asked to reschedule my appointment and wait more two weeks; I had to pressure them to make it earlier.

    The examination was very brief, I have to give the questions and the answers ... The doctor are kinda passive ?!

    I also have experienced the GPs in the third world and it seems that you get more care and interest that this best Dutch system!!. You have to pay for it but still the quality is much better.
  • VegasBrianC posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 11:17:40 - Reply

    Wow! Unbelieable! I am not sure if they only surveyed Dutch Cr's or what. As a patient that has requested special examiniations it took almost 6 months to get an appointment with a specialist. Good thing I wasnt dying. I have asked my GP to check my skin for skin cancer which is a common thing to do back home since I am from Las Vegas. My GP looked at me and said you are fine. I asked should I take my shirt off so you can look??
    I also had a collegue which had a heart attack and they sent him back home the same night. This is insanity. He had to get our HR department involved and forced the hospital to re-examine him thourougly and the final result was he needed a immediate operaiton to replace a heart valve. If he didn't force the issue who knows what would have happend.
    I don't think a perfect medical system exsits but I would sure not rank the Dutch medical system at the top.
  • She posted:

    on 30th September 2009, 11:13:19 - Reply

    I'm not overly impressed. The doctors / specialists here cannot find a reason for my chronic neck / shoulder pain.

    I feel that doctor's are better off if I diagnose myself. I just tell the doctor what meds I need and he obliges. It's a lot like America, in that respect.

    It's not terrible healthcare...I'm just surprised if this is the best...then what's the rest like?!
  • Coming from the US.... posted:

    on 29th September 2009, 23:18:01 - Reply

    I totally agree with the above reponses. We have been here for 9 months now and are anxious to get out of here as quickly as possible because of the poor quality of health care. Our GP has such a low IQ, just unbelievalble what kind of mistakes she made. There is no protocol of doctor-patient interactions as we were so used to in America. We have heard enough horror stories from expats.
  • Lorelee posted:

    on 29th September 2009, 17:51:21 - Reply

    Reading this almost made me fall off my seat. How many people answered this survey and is that number enough to make an overall assesment final? The doctors/dentists that i have encountered barely gave me proper information, you can make an appointment but the actual day when you can come see them is in a week or 2 (min). the outcome of my visits, sad to say, always leads to disappointment. I have lived in a 3rd world country and the service i get is much better than what i have gotten here (which is a big surprise to me). 3 months i went to the doctor with no positive results and a diagnosis that was very basic. i come home to my home country and in 5 days, my condition was healed. There was also an incident with the dentist whereby i was charged for treatments that i didnt get but had an appt to. We clarified the matter and they said they will give us a call.. up to this day, nobody called us back. Talk about service.
  • ratkat posted:

    on 29th September 2009, 10:43:09 - Reply

    SJ, I agree with you that I've never come across such incompetence as with Dutch GPs- but I think that's a slightly separate issue than the actual healthcare "system"... the problem with the GPs is down to Calvinism, lack of bedside manner, and a culture of sometimes taking serious things too casually, I think. The system, as it is set up financially, makes a fair deal of sense - the downside is of course that the GPs are too focused on keeping on people away from specialists than in helping their patients...
  • S.J posted:

    on 29th September 2009, 10:02:42 - Reply

    they have the most unintelligent doctors i have ever came across. Honestly.
    all they can do is to prescribe a paracetamol to whatever illness you might have. that's my personal experience at least for last 3 years.
    one example - dentist. I wasted about 4 months and over 400 euros on my tooth and still it was hurting!! Then I went back home and fixed all in 1 week for less than 50 euros.
  • Dude Man posted:

    on 29th September 2009, 01:01:32 - Reply

    I find this very hard to believe.
    We're "spinning" out of control here.
    What's next another survey will be published saying
    "The sky is green and the grass is blue"?
    "Oh yes I believe that because it was published in a survey..."
  • Nicola Courtney posted:

    on 28th September 2009, 19:35:04 - Reply

    Feel that the survey overlooked the minor issue of what we have to pay for this system and how many (particularly old age pensioners) are often unable to pay for the cover they actualy need e.g. physiotherapy.