More patients visited medical specialists in the Netherlands in 2006, the first year that the new health insurance system was in operation. More people also used medication. The number of visits to general practitioners did not change.
Previously privately insured patients consult specialists more
The number of patient visits to specialists was higher in 2006 than in the period 2001–2005. Patients who had had private health insurance prior to 2006 consulted specialists more often: on average one and a half times a year in 2001-2005 and nearly twice in 2006. This narrowed the difference between patients who used to be insured privately and those formerly insured under the state-funded health insurance scheme. The increase may be connected with the fact that people with former private insurance now less often have excess policies, where they have to pay for part of the costs themselves. Although they do lose their no-claims bonus, this appears to be less important for them.
Average number of specialist contacts per year
More people on medication
Use of medication increased in 2006. More people were prescribed medication by their GP or specialist; more people also bought non-prescription drugs at pharmacies and chemists, for example pain killers and laxatives. These over the counter drugs are no longer covered by medical insurance, even if they are prescribed by a GP.
The percentage of persons using medication was higher among patients previously insured under the state-funded scheme than among those who used to have private health insurance. This is because the former group includes relatively many older and less healthy people.
Insured persons using medication (in the 14 days preceding the interview)
GP visits unchanged
Dutch people visited their GP on average about 3.5 times a year, just as often as in the years before. People formerly insured under the state-funded scheme saw their GP four times a year, those who had private insurance three times a year.
Average number of GP contacts per year
Marieke van Herten