The Netherlands consistently ranks among the top places in the world to live and work and it is ranked first in the world for having the most plentiful, nutritious, healthy and affordable food. The Netherlands is famed for its liberal social policies, maritime trading traditions, battles to hold back the sea, robust multiculturalism and leading technological communications, making Dutch lifestyle a mosaic of cultural intrigue.
Dutch healthcare system is ranked as the best healthcare in Europe, according to the Euro Health Consumer Index. The Netherlands spends more than 10 percent of GDP on health, among the highest in the EU and one of the few countries to spend more than EUR 4.0 thousand per inhabitant. Also, the Netherlands probably has the best and most structured arrangement for patient organisation participation in healthcare decision and policymaking in Europe.
Health insurance in the Netherlands is mandatory and separated from caregivers/hospitals. Healthcare in the Netherlands is covered by two statutory forms of insurance:
There are three types of hospitals in the Netherlands: university hospitals, general hospitals, and a category in between that call themselves "top-clinical" teaching hospitals. There are eight academic hospitals, or university medical centers, each of which is directly connected with the medicine faculty of a major Dutch university. These are the largest hospitals in the country, and they have the largest number and greatest variety of specialists and researchers working in them. They are able to provide the most complex and specialised treatment. Most insurance packages allow patients to choose where they want to be treated. To help patients choose, the Dutch government has set up websites where information is gathered and disclosed about provider performance.
Education is divided over schools for different age groups, some of which are divided in streams for different educational levels. Schools are furthermore divided in public, special (religious), and general-special (neutral) schools, although there are also a few private schools.
Compulsory education (leerplicht) in the Netherlands starts at the age of five, although in practice, most schools accept children from the age of four. From the age of sixteen there is a partial compulsory education (partiële leerplicht), meaning a pupil must attend some form of education for at least two days a week. Compulsory education ends for pupils aged eighteen and up or when they get a diploma on the VWO, HAVO or MBO level.
Public, special (religious), and general-special (neutral) schools are government-financed, receiving equal financial support from the government if certain criteria are met. Although they are officially free of charge, these schools may ask for a parental contribution. Private schools rely on their own funds, but they are highly uncommon in the Netherlands, to the extent that even the Dutch monarchs have traditionally attended special or public schools. Public schools are controlled by local governments. Special schools are controlled by a school board and are typically based on a particular religion; those that assume equality between religions are known as general-special schools. These differences are present in all levels of education.