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Netherlands best for health in Europe

The Netherlands has come out on top for the second year in a row in the fifth annual edition of the Euro Health Consumer Index

The Netherlands has come out on top for the second year in a row in the fifth annual edition of the Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI). The country scores well in all categories except for 'Waiting time/Access' where it returned a more modest result.

Denmark also keeps its runner-up position from last year, benefiting from a good score in the new 'E-health' category. 

Iceland, included for the first time, is in third place. The report's authors believe that a lack of specialist training for doctors has helped, rather than hindered, Icelandic healthcare as it allows doctors to gain knowledge and expert connections overseas that they are then able to utilise to good effect when they return to their home country. 

Austria and Switzerland make the top five and, along with sixth-place Germany, demonstrate excellent accessibility to healthcare services. The authors point out that the German healthcare system, in particular, is relatively free from restrictions and yet its healthcare costs remain modest. All three of these countries, however, lose points on 'Outcomes'.

In contrast, Sweden tops the 'Outcomes' category for the fifth year in a row but has been unable to improve its poor 'Accessibility' score. 

The EHCI started in 2005 with 12 countries and 20 indicators. This year's index includes all 27 EU member states plus Norway, Switzerland, Croatia, FYR Macedonia and, for the first time, Albania and Iceland.

There are general improvement trends among most of the measured healthcare systems but Spain, Portugal and Greece show continuous decline. Overall 'Bismarck' healthcare systems – based on social insurance with a multitude of providers score better than 'Beveridge' systems – where financing and provision are handled within one organisational system. The UK, with the largest Beveridge-type system in Europe, is in 14th place.

29th September 2009

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