Making Up Your Mind About the Dutch Healthcare System

The ones who have been to a Dutch GP already know I’m right; two weeks’ rest and a paracetamol are the most-prescribed medicine in the Netherlands. Living in Belgium it’s a different story. Going to your GP in Belgium almost always (I would say 90+% if not more) results in you walking out with a prescription; even if only for paracetamol. In other words, the Belgian patient wants to be reassured that the GP has seriously assessed their condition and prescribed them something. My own Belgian GP tells me often that only with his Dutch patients can he ‘get away’ with not prescribing anything, but that his Belgian patients do not find this acceptable.

I don’t know which system is better. It is what it is and generally speaking, there are a lot of countries in the world where healthcare services are a lot worse and/or a lot more expensive.

From a cultural standpoint I would like to give you an assignment: go and see your Dutch GP if you haven’t done so yet. Next, when you’re in Belgium, do the same. Just for the sake of comparison. To build your cultural competence so to speak.

Chris Smit
2018 Summer

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