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Keywords:

  • Long-term care;
  • Social health insurance;
  • Health care reform;
  • The Netherlands

Abstract

The Netherlands was the first country that introduced a universal mandatory social health insurance scheme for covering a broad range of long-term care (LTC) services provided in a variety of care settings. Compared with most other OECD countries, both total and public expenditure on LTC is high, particularly since the Dutch population is relatively young. On the other hand, coverage of LTC services is relatively comprehensive. In this article we examine the past experiences, current deficiencies and future prospects of LTC financing in the Netherlands. By rationing of supply and tight budgetary restrictions, the government managed to effectively control the growth of LTC expenditure, but at the expense of growing waiting lists and deteriorating quality of care. Reform plans aim to make the LTC system more efficient and consumer-directed. We discuss whether the proposed reforms offer a perspective on a sustainable system of comprehensive LTC insurance. This is especially important in view of the ageing of the population and the expected increase in demand for LTC services. We conclude that the success of the reforms heavily depends on the definition of entitlements, the accuracy of needs assessment and the feasibility of determining appropriate client-based budgets.