OBJECTIVES: This paper offers an overview of the different health care financing policies for incontinence products in 16 European countries and provides health care decision-makers with a framework for positioning their financing policy for incontinence products versus other European countries. METHODS: A questionnaire was sent to institutions or persons acquainted with the health care financing system towards incontinence products in 19 countries. Further details were collected by additional telephone interviews and information from several informants. Three countries did not provide information. RESULTS: Financing systems for incontinence products differ widely from country to country. In all countries, hospitalized incontinent patients are better covered than patients residing in institutions for geriatric care. It is furthermore a common phenomenon that patients living at home receive even less coverage. Moreover, most countries apply a fairly uniform type of financing system, meaning that, once assessed in need, financial coverage is very similar for all patients (i.e. not very much differentiated with respect to the nature and severity of their incontinence problems). CONCLUSION: Given the serious potential impact of incontinence on citizens' quality of life and given the substantial variations in degree of incontinence, most countries could improve their utilization of (scarce) health care resources devoted to incontinence by developing more 'selective' payment policies, whereby reimbursement is 'tailored' to patients' needs.