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Social differences in health care utilisation and costs in the Netherlands 2003

Sociale verschillen in zorggebruik en zorgkosten in Nederland 2003. Zorg voor euro's - 5. Een verkenning van verschillen naar sociaal-economische positie, samenlevingsvorm en land van herkomst


Within the Netherlands, there are substantial social inequalities in care consumption and health care costs. People differ in terms of their use of care facilities. This is influenced by factors such as their socio-economic position, mode of cohabitation and country of origin. The present study reveals that this effect is even more pronounced than previous research has indicated. Social inequalities were identified in the use of virtually all types of care facilities. These inequalities are also substantial when translated into health care costs. In terms of costs per resident, it is estimated that individuals with an HBO qualification (professionally oriented higher education) or a university degree are 11% below the national average, while those who only received a primary-school education are 21% above that level. The average care costs of widowed individuals and divorcees are 31% and 48% above the national average, respectively. Conversely, the cost of care for people of non-Western origin are relatively low, but they are still 15% above the national average. It is worth noting that the same percentage applies to non-indigenous individuals of Western (mainly European) origin. The main reason for this is that lower socio-economic groups have more health problems. So, this study concludes that each euro spent on health care generally ends up in the right place, i.e. where there is the greatest need for care. This underscores the enormous importance of risk solidarity in the Dutch health service. This study also illustrate the fact that combating health deprivation can help us to manage the level of care expenditure in the Netherlands.

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