What does health care look like in the Netherlands, and what are the laws regarding health insurance? In this blog, we cover what the rules are, how to choose and apply for a health insurance and how to choose a general practitioner (huisarts).
What does the law say?
Every person who lives or works in the Netherlands is legally obliged to take out standard health insurance (basisverzekering) to cover the cost of, for example, consulting a general practitioner, hospital treatment and prescription medication.
There are three different packages for the basic health insurance:
- Beperkte keuze (cheap but only covers a small range of medical care)
- Ruime keuze (covers a large range of medical care)
- Vrije keuze (expensive but covers all types of medical care)
If you need specific medical attention, you can also opt to take out additional insurance to cover costs not included in the standard package. All insurance companies offer this package for the same price as well as additional insurance or dental insurance.
The Dutch health insurance system is also called: Eigen Risico (“Own Risk”), due to the fact that you choose depending on your medical needs. Understand the Eigen Risico better here.
What can happen if you don’t get a health insurance?
It can lead to two fines of €382,50. After 9 months of being uninsured, Dutch authorities will give you mandatory insurance at the cost of €134,38 a month.Thus,you must sign up for health insurance as soon as possible upon arriving in the Netherlands; if you wait, you will be obligated to back-pay from the date of your arrival (e.g. if you arrive in June but wait to sign up for insurance until September, you will be required to pay the monthly rate for June-August in addition to September).
Choosing a general practitioner or dentist.
It is mandatory to choose a general practitioner and a dentist. You can ask your healthcare provider for available doctors & dentists in your area. Unfortunately sometimes a doctor or dentist will have a patiëntenstop (‘patient stop’). This means that they already have a full patient list and cannot take any new patients, in which case you will need to choose another.
In the event that your doctor is unavailable and you have an urgent medical condition, you should contact an out-of-hours medical service (huisartsenpost) and they will advise you to either go directly to the emergency room or to visit them. In both cases, you must ensure that you take your health insurance card.
Which health insurance company should you choose?
Insurance providers are all private companies and there are many to choose from.
Here are just a few examples:
Check this comparison site to compare the fees of different healthcare providers
How to apply for a Dutch health insurance?
To apply for a Dutch health insurance, you just need to go on the company’s website and apply for the package you want, rather it is only the basic insurance or an additional one. It is very easy and quick to do no reason to do it later!
To be able to apply for the insurance, you’ll only need an address of residency in the Netherlands, a BSN number and Dutch bank account.
The national emergency services number (to call the police, an ambulance, the fire brigade, etc) is 112.