Care spending 3.2 percent up

  • Small increase in spending on dental care, medicines and care for the elderly
  • Strong growth in spending on GP care
  • Slight rise in share of care spending in gross domestic product

In 2011, spending on health car and welfare in the Netherlands amounted to 90.0 billion euro. This is 3.2 percent more than in 2010. In the period 2004-2008 spending on care rose increasingly strongly, to 6.8 percent in 2008. This was the turning point: in 2009 growth was 5.2 percent, and in 2010 it was 3,9 percent. These are some of the provisional figures released by Statistics Netherlands today.

Wage costs account for the by far most of the costs for most care providers. The increasing number of jobs and increasing wages pushed up the total wage sum by more than 3 percent in 2011.

Spending on hospital care and specialists’ practices rose by 3.8 percent in 2011. In 2010 this increase was 6 percent. The smaller increase was mainly accounted for by a one-off payment to many hospitals in 2010 to compensate for costs of new construction. In addition, earlier fee reductions of medical specialists continued to have an effect. Spending on hospitals and specialists’ practices account for more than one quarter of total care spending.

After three years of marginal increases, spending on general practitioners’ practices rose by more than 8 percent in 2011. This was mainly caused by fee increases. Spending on the ‘chain of  care’ is not included in this.

Spending on dental practices rose by only 0.8 percent. This small increase was mainly caused by removal of dental care for 18-22 year-olds from basic medical insurance. Part of this care is now paid for by private households.

Nearly 2 percent more was spent on medicines supplied through regular chemists and pharmacies in 2011. The use of costly medication contributed particularly to this increase. On the other hand, there were price and fee reductions, and restrictions on claims under basic medical insurance (contraception for women over 21 and anti-depressants). Part of the consumption of these medicines is now paid for privately. This was the fourth year in succession that spending on medicines grew only slowly.

Spending on care for the elderly, care for the disabled and mental health care showed a moderate increase of between 2 to 3 percent in 2011. Care for the elderly fell as a result of municipalities receiving less funding from central government under the social support act (Wet maatschappelijke ondersteuning). 

The share of spending on care in the Dutch gross domestic product (GDP) rose slightly in 2011, to 14.9 percent. Per capita spending was 5,392 euro; in 2010 it was 5,247 euro.