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The Netherlands Win!

- June 25, 2010

In health care, according to the latest Commonwealth Fund Report. Apparently, Dutch health care is cheaper and better than in the US and in the other countries in the study.

I never quite know what to make of comparative reports like this but the conclusions certainly match personal experience. Access is especially good. An important point to make here is that this is not all about insurance. Last summer, I had to bring my daughter to a Dutch doctor. Not only did I succeed in seeing someone that same morning but the cost were less than my regular co-payment in the USA, even though I have no insurance in the Netherlands and had never seen that doctor before.

The key is that the Dutch have an extensive system of family doctors, who generally operate a practice from their homes with minimal administrative assistance. These family doctors provide basic health care, do house visits, and are the gatekeepers for (more expensive) specialized care. This keeps a lot of people out of hospitals who do not need to go to hospitals. Of course, reforming insurance is relatively easy in comparison with making the type of structural reforms that would create a similar system in the US. Yet, these may well be the types of reforms that have a broader impact on quality of life.

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