Health insurance in the Netherlands
If you are moving to or visiting the Netherlands, you will likely be wondering how the Dutch healthcare system works and whether it is worth taking out a private health insurance plan. This guide tells you all you need to know about health insurance in the Netherlands, by shedding light on the country’s healthcare system and the insurance landscape. Read on to learn more, or click below to obtain a no-obligation, free quote.
About the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a north-western European country that shares a border with Germany, Belgium, and the North Sea. It has three special municipalities located in the Caribbean Sea, which is often referred to as Caribbean Netherlands. The country of 17 million people is a constitutional monarchy and a founding member of the European Union (EU). It was also one of the first to adopt the Euro currency over two decades ago. The Netherlands is at the forefront of many innovative techniques in the fields of water management and sustainable development. It is often associated with tulips, windmills, and cheese. Despite the Netherlands' small size, its capital, Amsterdam, is one of the most visited cities in Europe. When it comes to healthcare, the Dutch receive excellent universal healthcare and enjoy some of the longest life expectancy in the world.
Healthcare system in the Netherlands
The healthcare system in the Netherlands is a unique symbiosis of both publicly and privately funded medical services. While there is universal healthcare managed by the government, this is largely implemented by private insurers. Therefore, all Dutch citizens and residents living and working in the Netherlands are required to be in possession of a health insurance plan. Children below the age of 18 are not required to pay for health insurance.
Health insurance requirement for residents
There are two main types of statutory health insurance in the Netherlands - basic insurance or Zorgverzekeringswet (Zvw) and long-term care or Wet langdurige zorg (Wlz). Dutch residents are insured by the government for long-term care by default, but are mostly responsible for their own basic health insurance.
Basic health insurance plans cover the costs of services like general practitioner (GP), specialist doctors, medication, and maternity care. You can check the list on the government’s website. There is strict regulation mandating that all care must be offered at a fixed price. Insurers cannot deny coverage to anyone or impose extra fees based on an individual’s personal situation.
All insurers in the Netherlands have the same basic health insurance plans on offer, which costs, on average, €100 - €120 per month. For those employed, their employers contribute a small percentage towards this cost. Insurers tend to compete on areas like dental treatments, physiotherapy, or anything else not included in the basic health insurance plan.
Furthermore, some treatments under the basic health insurance plan have an excess so users may be required to pay a certain amount out of pocket. It is common for people to opt for higher level insurance coverage at an additional fee. For low income Dutch residents, it is possible to apply for financial assistance for basic healthcare or extra services if they are unable to afford it.
Accessing healthcare for residents
The GPs or huisarts are the first stop for any medical concerns, dealing with routine health issues and referring you to specialist services. Most specialists work in a hospital setting and you can only see them if you have a referral from your GP. Generally speaking, medical practitioners are fluent in English.
For expats who have just moved to the Netherlands, there are certain steps you need to take before you can access the healthcare system.
- Get a citizen service number (BSN) from your local council upon registration
- Select and register for your preferred health insurance type (basic or higher level) from any Dutch provider
- Register with a GP
Emergency services do not require you to be pre-registered. You can simply dial 112 or head to an emergency department at your nearest hospital.
Accessing healthcare for tourists
Tourists and short term visitors from an EU/EEA country coming to the Netherlands for less than 12 months will be able to access healthcare using their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). All other short term visitors from outside the EU/EEA must arrange their own travel insurance or international health insurance when visiting the Netherlands.
Netherlands travel tips
The Netherlands is generally a safe country and most visits are trouble free. However, visitors are advised to take care around crowded areas as pickpocketing and bag snatching are common. In areas like central Amsterdam and around Central Station, thieves often operate in gangs.
Although the country has a reputation for being tolerant on the use of ‘soft drugs’, the reality is far more complicated. Use of cannabis is only tolerated in specifically designated cafés and not in public spaces. Furthermore, while it may be easy to get hold of, both dry and fresh psychoactive mushrooms are forbidden by law.
Visitors are advised to maintain caution as there have been several deaths resulting from fatal combinations of alcohol, cannabis and wild mushrooms. Furthermore, being in possession of prohibited drugs or using them outside designated areas can result in arrest and/or a prison sentence.
Everyone above the age of 14 must also show a valid identity document to police officers and law enforcement authorities upon their request. The document required will depend on your nationality. Usually, a passport, Dutch driving license, or a Dutch/EU identity card will suffice.
Please note that the information on this page is not fully comprehensive and is subject to change without prior warning. It is advisable to consult with the local Dutch embassy should you have any doubts before you depart on your journey.
Private health insurance for expats in the Netherlands
As it is the case for all Dutch citizens and residents, expats in the Netherlands will need to have at least a basic health insurance plan from a Dutch provider. It is important to note that health insurance plans from non-Dutch companies are not valid. This is a way for the government to regulate the health insurance plans and the quality of the coverage.
If you are looking for a localized private health insurance plan, we can help you find one that suits your exact needs through our Netherlands expat health insurance plan. Should you find the basic plan to be insufficient, we are also able to help you secure policies with no deductibles or expenses.
Furthermore, our highly customizable policies will also give you a range of additional benefits such as coverage for outpatient treatment, dental, vision, and maternity protection, as well as complementary medicines, specialist consultations, alternative therapies, and emergency medical evacuation.
Our plans are globally portable and guaranteed renewable for life, giving you peace of mind that you will be covered no matter where you are or what your circumstances are. For a no-obligation quote and insurance consultation, feel free to contact us today to speak to an advisor.