Netherlands ranks #2 among high-income countries for healthcare

The Netherlands has appeared in the top three out of 11 high-income nations when comparing the performance of healthcare.

We all love to have a good whine about the Dutch healthcare system: the insurance is too expensive, the doctors will only prescribe paracetamol, blah, blah, blah.

Well, it turns out we’re a bunch of moaners because the healthcare system in the Netherlands is among the top in the world — according to a recent study by The Commonwealth Fund.

The study identified 71 performance measures across five domains: access to care, care process, administrative efficiency, equity, and health care outcomes.

Of the 11 high-income countries compared, Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia all came out on top.

Doing healthcare the Dutch way

The Netherlands was the top-scoring country when it came to accessing care, ranking well on affordability and timeliness.

Residents of the Netherlands are far less likely than in other countries to report that their insurance denied payment of a claim or paid less than expected. They’re also far less likely to report difficulty paying medical bills.

The Netherlands also reportedly has quick and often available care outside of business hours. The study highlighted the requirement of Dutch GPs to provide at least 50 hours of after-hours at cooperative GP posts every year. If a GP fails to do so, they risk losing their medical licence.

Finally, the privatisation of the Dutch healthcare system works to the Dutch’s benefit. There’s a mandatory minimum basic benefits package, and features like keeping premiums lower for sicker individuals and cost-sharing caps mean that insurers have to compete on service and quality — not by avoiding insuring people with higher health risks.

Bottom of the heap

Any guesses as to who came in the last place? You got it! The United States.

In fact, despite spending far more of its GDP on health care, the US still was the worst in the ranking. Americans, we feel for you. ⛑

How high-income countries rank on healthcare

  1. Norway 🇳🇴
  2. Netherlands 🇳🇱
  3. Australia 🇦🇺
  4. United Kingdom 🇬🇧
  5. Germany 🇩🇪
  6. New Zealand 🇳🇿
  7. Sweden 🇸🇪
  8. France 🇫🇷
  9. Switzerland 🇨🇭
  10. Canada 🇨🇦
  11. United States 🇺🇸

Hiep hiep hoera, Netherlands! We promise we’ll try to complain less about our insurance bill in the future (key word: try).

How do you find the healthcare system in the Netherlands? Do you think it deserves this ranking? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: VitalikRadko/Depositphotos

Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam has over six years experience writing about life in the Netherlands and leads the content team at DutchReview. She originally came to the Netherlands to study in 2016 and now holds a BA (Hons.) in Arts, a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and (almost) a Masters in Teaching. She loves to write about settling into life in the Netherlands, her city of Utrecht, learning Dutch, and jobs in the Netherlands — and she still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike (she's learning!).


  1. NL health system and doctors are literally terrible.
    I am nearly 40 and lived in 4 different countries, incl. US.
    My observation is that doctors in NL are collectively manipulating the patients and system data to keep the insurance prices low. (Not all but most of them based on my experiences)
    Once I was dying from Covid, a hospital doctor pushed me not to come hospital again at night, indicating the insurance companies increase the prices — and suggested to go GP on a day time. Many doctor’s primary concerns are not health of people but more political/economical issues.

    For another issue I had, 3 doctors claimed that it’s a physiological problem, whereby the 4th Dutch doctor could find the root cause after a pope test, and suggested an antibiotic treatment. First three doctors simple don’t care about patient health, and tries to earn more money while adding all these fake data into health database.


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