Spending on health care and welfare levels off

18/05/2011 15:00
  • Limited increase costs hospital care and care for disabled
  • Above-average growth expenditure on paramedical care and care for the elderly
  • Health care costs as a percentage of the GDP unchanged

According to the most recent figures released by Statistics Netherlands, the costs of health care and welfare amounted to 87.6 billion euro in 2010, a 3.6 percent increase relative to 2009. Over the period 2004-2008, the costs of care increased at an accelerated rate to 7.0 percent in 2008. In 2009, the growth rate slowed down to 5.7 percent. The total wage sum was approximately 5 percent higher in 2010 due to employment growth and wage increases in the health care and welfare sector.

Spending on hospital care and medical specialists rose 3.5 percent in 2010 versus nearly 7 percent in 2009. The slowdown is mainly caused by substantially lower fees for medical specialists to reduce recent budget overruns. Spending on hospital care and medical specialist practices constitute more than a quarter of total spending in the sector.

Costs of GP practices grew marginally by only 2.4 percent in 2010. The costs of multi-disciplinary health care are not included. They are attributed to providers of auxiliary health care services. Although GPs play a pivotal role in multi-disciplinary health care, not all costs can be traced back to GP practices. Other health care providers are also engaged in providing multi-disciplinary care to patients. Expenditure on providers of auxiliary health care services rose by  5 percent last year.

Spending on paramedical care increased by 7.0 percent in 2010, mainly due to higher fees charged by midwives to conform to the standard income level and more patients consulting physiotherapists.

The growth rate regarding costs of care for the elderly was above average (5.0 percent), but expenditure on care for disabled increased by only 1.3 percent in 2010. Costs of extra and intramural health care for the elderly also increased. In extramural health care, elderly patients required more personal care and in intramural health care, the so-called care intensity packages forced up health care costs.

The relatively small increase in care for the disabled is predominantly due to lower costs in extramural health care, more specifically patient support care and a cutback in transport facilities for disabled and devices to enhance their mobility.

The costs of health care and welfare expressed as a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) remained stable in 2010 at 14.8 percent. Per capita costs amounted to 5,272 euro, as against 5,113 euro in 2009.