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Socio-economic differences in general practitioner and outpatient specialist care in the Netherlands: A matter of health insurance?


  • Bongers, Inge M. B.
  • Van Der Meer, Joost B. W.
  • Van Den Bos, Johannes
  • Mackenbach, Johan P.


Equal treatment for equal needs, irrespective of socio-economic position, is a major issue in many countries. Although in the Netherlands differences in utilization of health care between population groups are less pronounced than in most other countries, some differences by socio-economic position do exist. Controlling for health status, individuals with a high socio-economic status have a higher probability of outpatient contacts with a specialist, but a lower probability of general practitioner contacts, compared with those with a low socioeconomic status. In this cross-sectional study, we studied whether socio-economic differences in GP and outpatient specialist care utilization that exist after health status is taken into account could be explained by different aspects of health insurance. The study population, in which people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes mellitus, severe back complaints, and heart diseases are overrepresented, consists of 2867 respondents. Multivariate analyses show that the socio-economic differences in outpatient specialist contacts cannot be explained by differences in health insurance, whereas differences in general practitioner contacts can partially be explained by the fact that individuals with higher socio-economic status more often have a private (instead of public) insurance. This is not owing to differences in deductible or insurance coverage between public and private insurance, but is more likely to be caused by differences in regulatory aspects between these two insurance schemes (such as the stronger gate-keeper role of the general practitioner in the public insurance scheme).

Suggested Citation

  • Bongers, Inge M. B. & Van Der Meer, Joost B. W. & Van Den Bos, Johannes & Mackenbach, Johan P., 1997. "Socio-economic differences in general practitioner and outpatient specialist care in the Netherlands: A matter of health insurance?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(8), pages 1161-1168, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:44:y:1997:i:8:p:1161-1168

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    Cited by:

    1. Van der Heyden, J. H. A. & Demarest, S. & Tafforeau, J. & Van Oyen, H., 2003. "Socio-economic differences in the utilisation of health services in Belgium," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 153-165, August.
    2. van Doorslaer, Eddy & Wagstaff, Adam & van der Burg, Hattem & Christiansen, Terkel & De Graeve, Diana & Duchesne, Inge & Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Gerfin, Michael & Geurts, Jose & Gross, Lorna, 2000. "Equity in the delivery of health care in Europe and the US," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 553-583, September.
    3. repec:dau:papers:123456789/7006 is not listed on IDEAS


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