The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located in North-West Europe and with territories in the Caribbean. It is a parliamentary democratic constitutional monarchy. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and share maritime borders with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. The capital isAmsterdam and the seat of government is The Hague.
Introduction to the Netherlands
The Netherlands is the 61st most populated country in the world and as of February 23, 2009 it has a population of 16,499,084.
Between 1900 and 1950 the population had doubled from 5.1 to 10.0 million people. From 1951 to 2000 the population increased from 10.0 to 15.9 million people, making the relative increase smaller.
The Netherlands is the twenty-seventh most densely populated country in the world. The 16,499,084 Dutch men and women are concentrated on an area of 41,526 km²; this means that the country has a population density of 397 per km², or 487 per km² if only the land area, 33,883 km², is counted.
As a result of these demographic characteristics the Netherlands has had to plan its land use strictly. Since 1946 the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment has been occupied with the national coordination of land use. Because of its high population density the Netherlands has also reclaimed land from the sea by poldering. Between 1927 and 1968 an entire province, Flevoland was created. It currently houses 365,301 people. Because of these policies, the Dutch have been able to combine high levels of population density with extremely high levels of agricultural production.
Even though the Netherlands is so densely populated; there are no cities with a population over 1 million in the Netherlands. Instead 'four big cities' as they are called (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) can in many ways be regarded as a single metropolitan area, the Randstad ('rim or edge city') with about 7 million inhabitants around an agricultural 'green heart' (het Groene Hart). The unity of this conurbation can be illustrated by the current idea effort to create a circular train system connecting the four cities.
Healthcare in the Netherlands
Healthcare in the Netherlands is financed by a dual system that came into effect January 2006. Long-term treatments, especially those that involve semi-permanent hospitalization, and also disability costs such as wheelchairs, are covered by a state-controlled mandatory insurance. This is laid down in the Algemene Wet Bijzondere Ziektekosten (AWBZ, see article in the Dutch Wikipedia), "general law on exceptional healthcare costs," which first came into effect in 1968. In 2009 this insurance covered 27% of all health care expenses. For all regular (short-term) medical treatment, there is a system of obligatory health insurance, with private health insurance companies. These insurance companies are obliged to provide a package with a defined set of insured treatments. This insurance covers 41% of all health care expenses.
Other sources of health care payment are taxes (14%) out of pocket payments (9%) additional optional health insurance packages (4%) and a range of other sources (4%). Affordability is guaranteed through a system of income related allowances and individual and employer paid income related premiums.A key feature of the Dutch system is that premiums may not be related to health status or age. Risk variances between private health insurance companies due to the different risks presented by individual policy holders are compensated through risk equalization and a common risk pool. This should make insurers indifferent to healthy and risky clients. Funding for all short term health care is 50% from employers, 45% from the insured person and 5% by the government. Children until age 18 are covered for free. Those on low incomes receive compensation to help them pay their insurance. Premiums paid by the insured are about 100 € per month (about US$127 in Aug. 2010) with variation of about 5% between the various competing insurers.
Prior to 2006 (and since 1941), there were two separate systems of (short-term) health insurance: public and private. The public insurance system was executed by non-profit "health funds", and financed by premiums taken directly out of the wages (together with income taxes). Everyone earning less than a certain threshold income could make use of the public insurance system. However, anyone with income over that threshold was obliged to have private insurance instead.