|Dutch people enjoy good health care and a long
life expectancy. The health care system is based on a system of public
and private insurance. Worker and employers contribute to a public health
insurance plan so that everyone can get medical treatment when they need
it. People must pay for non-essential medical services, often through private
insurance plans. Costly essential treatments and long-term care are funded
through a special government program.
|Preventing illness is the main aim of the health
system. Children's vaccinations are free, as are check-ups for young children
and cancer screening for some adults. Mothers and babies, as well as the
elderly and chronically ill, are visited by home nurses. Home nursing,
especially for the chronically ill or the elderly, is increasing.
In 1993, the Netherlands government
legalized euthanasia (mercy-killing) under certain strict conditions, the
first government in the world to do so.
|Most people see a general practitioner, or family
doctor, when they are concerned about their health. The doctor will treat
patients or refer them to either a medical specialist or someone in the
paramedical field such as a midwife, dietitian or physiotherapist. Alternative
health treatments such as homeopathy and acupuncture are also popular.
|The Netherlands has more home births
that any other developed country. Midwives are trained to handle low-risk
births in their patients' homes. Women who have had problems during pregnancy
or who have difficulties with delivery go to hospital.
Many Dutch people remain active and fit into
their old age because they get a lot of exercise. They use their bicycles
more often than cars.