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Dutch healthcare system

The Netherlands is a country with 16.5 million inhabitants. All Dutch residents are registered in one general practice. Health insurance is mandatory, which covers a standard benefit package including primary care delivered by GPs. There are no co-payments for GP visits.

One full time GP provides care for an average of 2,350 patients at all ages. The GP is gatekeeper to hospital- and specialist care. GPs offer out-of-hour services by GP cooperatives across the whole country.

Most GPs work in small practices (2-5 practitioners) located close to the community. Most practices are owned by the physicians themselves. Over the last decade, collaboration among practices has increased, moving towards larger teams and organizational networks. These have included other disciplines, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and community nurses.


  • Faber MJ, Burgers JS, Westert GP. A sustainable primary care system: lessons from the Netherlands. J Ambul Care Manage. 2012; 35(3): 174-81.
  • Giesen P, Smits M, Huibers L, Grol R, Wensing M. Quality of after-hours primary care in the Netherlands: a narrative review. Ann Intern Med. 2011; 155(2): 108-13.
  • Westert GP, Burgers JS, Verkleij H. The Netherlands: regulated competition behind the dykes? BMJ. 2009; 339: 839-42.