The Dutch healthcare system: One of the best in the world?

The Dutch healthcare system: One of the best in the world?

The Dutch healthcare system: One of the best in the world?

A recent report ranking high-income countries based on the quality of their healthcare services has put the Netherlands second, behind Norway. 

The Commonwealth Fund healthcare report 

A 2021 report published by the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation aimed at promoting high-quality healthcare for all, compared the performance of healthcare systems in 11 high-income countries across the globe, analysing each system against 71 performance measures across five categories: 

  • Access to care (timeliness, affordability, etc)
  • Case process (preventative care, coordinated care, etc)
  • Administrative efficiency (amount of paperwork, etc)
  • Equity (income-related disparities)
  • Healthcare outcomes

While the study concluded that no two systems were alike, there were certain features that distinguished the top-performing countries from other international healthcare systems; namely the accessibility and cost of (quality) healthcare.

The quality and cost of healthcare in the Netherlands

Time and time again, the Dutch healthcare system is found to be one of the best in the world - and this study is no different. While Norway takes the top spot, the Netherlands has achieved a very respectable second place, ranking above the likes of Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. 

The Netherlands performed above average in four out of the five categories, with the national healthcare’s administrative efficiency ranking letting the country down a little. It did take the top spot when it came to access to care, and also performed well in the care process category.

The Commonwealth Fund found that residents of the Netherlands were much less likely to report that their health insurance denied payment of a claim or paid less than expected, and were less likely to report issues with paying medical bills. The report also highlighted the Netherlands’ comparatively good mental healthcare provisions, and the accessibility of medical assistance.

Ranking healthcare in high-income countries

According to the report, the 11 high-income countries studied rank as follows:

  1. Norway
  2. The Netherlands
  3. Australia
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Germany
  6. New Zealand
  7. Sweden
  8. France
  9. Switzerland
  10. Canada
  11. United States

For more information about the study, visit the Commonwealth Fund website.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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Leave a comment

SonuDavidsonC.B2 11:29 | 24 August 2021

I do not know how they came to this conclusion. It's quite strange that the doctor always prescribes paracetamol for everything. If I want to get a full-body check-up it doesn't exist. I don't know what's wrong with me until I fall sick. Perhaps the dutch health care doesn't know that "Prevention is better than cure". People in the Netherlands pay a lot towards health care Insurance and the least we expect is that we know what is going on inside our body. Kids health care is the worst! When we take our kids to huisarts when they are in pain, all they say is that they will go away. NO IT IS NOT OKAY AND IT WON'T GO AWAY.

amritaghosh2 00:37 | 25 August 2021

Every time when we call or write to GP she takes more than a week to respond back.If we ask to refer us to OLVG for some specialized treatment she experiments herself and messes around. We have suffered a lot and being an Expat do not know where to complaint.She do not accept any diagnosis done by renowned hospital of India for existing health issue and start experimenting without giving any resolution.I am surprised by this kind of service in this first world country.Hospital doctors are much better and co operating as we have experienced in Amsterdam. Working with GP is just to and fro and unnecessary wastage of time.They deducts money for maintaining file but no resolution ever given for the disease.We have to always keep a set of emergency medicine at home from India as we know our doctor never turns back on time.

NikFam2 14:37 | 25 August 2021

Most likely the worst healthcare system in the world! Simply put, serious health problems are identified only when they manifest with symptoms which is usually too late to treat. It is unbelievable how this system is accepted by the society. It is a common secret among the locals that the healthcare system is problematic

ulisse85 16:44 | 25 August 2021

Netherlands has many positive things but for sure not the healthcare system. You are enslaved to your family doctor(s) that they do little care about your needs. Without their prescriptions you cannot do any visit to specialists. This can last for month before convincing your huisarts that you really have important issues, and when he grants you his ok, you have to wait several weeks for the specilists to have an appointment. Italy and Spain are very above NL and UK in my personal experience. If you are concerned about your health, in the netherlands you will get or paracetamol or a burnout letter. Thats it. Save yourself if you can, and book any specialised visits short term elsewhere.

KirillSpiridonov 10:45 | 26 August 2021

This must be some kind of a joke, you can’t be serious calling Dutch healthcare one of the best. I love a lot about NL, but it’s healthcare is one of the major faults.

DemetrioAlves2 10:50 | 26 August 2021

I do agree with most of comments I read here. Can't say it's the worst, but for a very rich country and an expensive health insurance.. it's not good at all. As mentioned, to get them to actually look at what you might have you need to come to the doctor saying you are in a worst shape than you actually are, otherwise they will only prescribe you a paracetamol or have a "nice conversation". This rank is an absolute joke and you can tell it by having US health care system showing up in the list, when most americans pray not to get sick as they most likely are not gonna get any treatment. I think should also provide an article based on the perspective of the health care system users, as well.

GustavodelGerbo... 21:58 | 27 August 2021

I created an account just to put a comment on this article. No. The Dutch health system is not the second. It is one of the worst i have seen, heard and experienced. People in the Netherlands live with this because they do not know better. They think this is how it works. But no, medicine is 80 years ahead of this in every other single country in the planet. Even coming from a 3rd world country... Omg this is so so so bad i cannot even begin to describe it. Yes, they can stop you from dying, but whatever it you in that position, they don't care. The knowledge of GP s is like primary school. They don't know the difference between a virus and a bacteria. They will not prescribe anything ever unless you are about to die. Take a bunch of medicine with you and go to your doctor when you are back in your country for regular checks.

GeorgeTzeremes2 22:36 | 27 August 2021

Made an account just to comment on the article and the Dutch health system. I lived in 5 countries so far, NL practically has no health system. For every serious case the specialist will divert you to a Belgian or German hospital. In reality it is like the medical leeches of Europe benefiting from neighboring countries with good medical systems. Netherlands have many good things but not their medical system.

Sarah Chebaro 00:08 | 2 September 2021

What a joke of an article. I have never feared doctors like the ones here in the Netherlands.

TedUncle2 22:46 | 13 September 2021

I am surprised by this report, my experience with the Dutch health system does not reflect that.