The Netherlands

The Netherlands is unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The official language is Dutch.

The Dutch state has opted for a system that is intended to make medical care accessible to everyone. It consists of a basic insurance which is obligatory for all Dutchmen.

Pricing of pharmaceuticals is free in the Netherlands. However, obtaining reimbursement is bound to a number of rules and regulations, especially for expensive medicines.

Healthcare budget

$100 billion


17,4 million

GDP per capita




World Ranking

GDP 17th

Statistics as April 21st 2021

Dutch Healthcare

The Dutch healthcare system is known as one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Since the start of the yearly publication of the Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI) in 2005, the healthcare system of the Netherlands has consistently been ranked in the top three.

The success of the healthcare system in the Netherlands is driven by the tenets of access to care for everyone, solidarity through compulsory medical insurance and high-quality services. Everyone who is obligated to have a Dutch health insurance must be insured for at least the basic health insurance. This insurance covers care like the GP, medicines and hospital- visit and stay

The Netherlands is very much aware of the rising costs of healthcare and the Ministry of Health, Welfare & Sport devotes a great deal of attention to keeping these costs in check so the country’s healthcare system remains affordable and accessible. In 2016, healthcare spending in the Netherlands amounted to 96 billion euros, or 13,8% of the GDP.

Dutch pharmaceutical environment

Factors influencing pharmaceutical budget setting: overall fiscal/government budget constraints, past growth trends in pharmaceutical spending, anticipated market entry of new medicines. The total amount budgeted for pharmaceuticals used in extramural care in 2018 was €4,7 billion. Hospital spending on expensive medicines rose 10% in 2017 and has now hit €2,2 billion.

In November 2017 the European Union member states decided to relocate the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to Amsterdam. This puts the Netherlands on the map and offers huge opportunities to attract new (bio)pharmaceutical and service providing companies to the Netherlands.

Today's challenges

The cost of pharmaceuticals is predicted to rise 10% every year. The government makes agreements with doctors, pharmacists and health insurers to control these costs.

The prices of generic medicines in the Netherlands are very low. This is contrast to the prices of innovative oncology pharmaceuticals. There is a debate on high prices of medicines.

The access to prescribers is declining. Especially GPs are not willing any more to interact with companies on pharmaceuticals.

The Dutch experts

Gert van Alewijk & Bauke Buwalda

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