The Dutch healthcare system is built on the principle of solidarity. Health care is funded by all citizens through taxation of income and mandatory health insurance fees. As a result, Dutch healthcare has become an accessible social service. The Dutch enjoy one of the world’s longest average life spans, in part because of the healthcare they receive. Dutch healthcare expresses a value of egalitarianism: that everyone should receive the same type and quality of treatment, irrespective of social status, gender and income.
Healthcare providers should treat all people with the same level of dignity and respect. The healthcare system is designed so that everyone receives the best possible treatment.
The philosophy underpinning the Dutch healthcare system is based upon a few more or less universal principles:
- access to care for all,
- solidarity through medical insurance (which is compulsory for all and available to all) and
- high-quality healthcare services.
All residents of the Netherlands are entitled to a comprehensive basic health insurance package. This package is offered by competitive health insurance providers. It should be noted that virtually all health insurance companies in the Netherlands are not-for-profit cooperatives that allocate any profits they make to the reserves they are required to maintain or return them in the form of lower premiums. There is a total of 24 insurers in the Netherlands, which bear a risk for their operations.
The Dutch healthcare system is governed by a legal framework consisting of four basic healthcare-related acts.