Top 10 cities with the best healthcare systems in Europe

NewsReports & Analyses

Health care, the maintenance and the improvement of health through prevention, diagnosis and treatments, is (or, at least, should be) the most important thing for every single person in the world.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), everyone needs to have equal access to quality healthcare. Patients seeking such care should not be exposed to any financial harm because of it.

Countries around the world run their specific healthcare systems. In Europe, the healthcare systems are created with the same goal in mind: to make sure every single person has the access to basic health services, meaning ALL citizens must be included in it. Everyone is enrolled in their national healthcare system and a great deal of medical services are therefore free of additional charge and are provided by governmentally employed doctors.

A similarity throughout European countries is that healthcare is largely funded by employers and the public through monthly taxes. Besides the government healthcare, every country also offers different private insurance plans which can supplement their public health insurance.

Furthermore, all the citizens of the EEA countries and Switzerland can also get the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This free of charge card allows them to receive urgent medical treatment everywhere within EEA/Switzerland for free or at a reduced cost. The card has been in use for more than 15 years and the reason it was introduced in the EU health care system is because everyone has the right to health care without the need to urgently return home to receive it. Naturally, it does not cover non-urgent care which can be delayed until the return to home (for example, dental care).

Although the EU has no major administrative responsibility in the field of healthcare, both the WHO Europe and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control are involved in public health development in Europe.

Which countries in Europe are champions of their healthcare system? The Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI) has an answer to that question. EHCI is a comparison of European health care systems based on different data, such as patients rights, accessibility and the range of services. According to EHCI 2018, the top five countries in Europe are Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Belgium.

Eurostat conducted a citizens’ perception survey one year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic to examine the overall satisfaction with health care services, doctors and hospitals.

A total of 103 cities participated in the survey and the most satisfied citizens with their health care and those in Zurich (68,2% of very satisfied people with health care). Switzerland has a universal health care system. Residents must acquire insurance from private, non profit insurers. Additional private insurance is also available, but it is not mandatory. In 1994, the country adopted their Health Insurance Law based on the private insurance model with the goal of strengthening equality, expanding the benefits and covering the overall, growing cost of the health system. The result is  an extensive network of doctors and clean, well-equipped hospitals and clinics. Also, the waiting lists for all kinds of treatments are very short and patients can choose their own doctor. Also, emergency rooms are almost never crowded and overwhelmed.

At the second place is Groningen (60,5%), the Dutch city which ranked first in the research of very satisfied inhabitants with schools and other educational facilities.

The Netherlands is the only country which is constantly among the top three best healthcare Euro health consumer index rankings in the last 20 years. Most hospitals and health insurers in the Netherlands are privately run, non-profit foundations. The Netherlands has three types of hospitals: university hospitals, general hospitals, and so called “top-clinical” teaching hospitals. The university hospitals are directly connected to the faculties of medicine and those gather a great number of specialists and researchers who are able to provide the most complex treatments.

The people in Austrian city of Graz made a score of 58,9% which was enough to place them on the third place of the survey. The overall Austrian healthcare system is a two-tier one, meaning that everyone has a publicly funded care, while the private insurance is optional.

Antwerp was placed on the fourth place (58,5%), while the German city of Würzburg concludes the top 5 list with 57,7% of very satisfied people with health care services and infrastructure.

From sixth to tenth places are Freiburg with the score of 56,6%, Munich (53%), UK’s Tyneside conurbation (50,9%), Geneva greater area (50%) and Amsterdam greater area (49,1%).

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world how vulnerable the healthcare systems around the world can be. Nobody was prepared for a virus of that magnitude. However, thanks to the constant improvements in medicine, the vaccine was rapidly developed. After two years, the world is getting recovered and hopefully, the pandemic will soon come to its end. (photo credit: rawpixel. com/Freepik)