Some nine out of ten people aged over 75 in the Netherlands consulted their general practitioner at least once in 2008. Although income levels were not a factor in this number, GPs did visit people in this age group with a low income at home more than people with a higher income.
GPs visited half of over-75s with a low income
General practitioners visited elderly people with a low income at home at least once considerably more often than elderly people with a higher income. Half of over-75s in the lowest income bracket, for example, were visited by their GP at home at least once. In the group with the highest income this was one third. GPs only do house calls if patients are unable to get to the surgery. This is mainly the case for the elderly.
The share of elderly who had visited the surgery at least once, however, was slightly lower for the lowest than for the highest income groups.
Share of over-75s contacting their GP at least once in 2008
Low-income elderly see their GP at least 10 times
People with low incomes generally experience more health problems than people with higher incomes. Although the percentage of older people who had seen their GP at least once was about the same for all income groups, the average number of contacts was higher for elderly people in the lowest income groups. People aged over 75 in the lowest income group, for example, contacted their GP 10 times on average, compared with 8 times for people in the highest income groups. This difference is mainly accounted for by more house calls and more telephone consultations.
Average number of times over-75s contacted their GP, 2008
More house calls for women
GPs visited women aged 75 years or older at home nearly three times on average in 2008. Men in this age group received just under two house calls. Women also consulted their GP by telephone more often than men. Both older men and older women went to their GP’s surgery around five times.
Average number of GP contacts of over-75s by sex, 2008
Marije Berger – van Sijl