Picking a Dutch health insurance provider and policy
Choosing the right insurer and policy for you, might not always be easy.
Basic health insurance
Anyone who's 18 or older and receiving a salary, benefit payment or pension, is obliged to take out basic health insurance. This type of insurance covers the most important healthcare services that you might need to avail of, like the GP, hospital and medication. Insurers are legally bound to take on any person who applies for basic health insurance.
You can also take out a supplementary insurance policy to cover healthcare services, not covered by the basic health insurance, such as physical therapy or dental care.. This is not compulsory. There are third parties who compare policies for you, their websites can be very helpful. They give a clear price overview and provide a comparison of policies:
If you arrive in the Netherlands from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will have to sign up for health insurance within four months of receiving your residence permit. This is even the case if you have an existing foreign policy. EU/EEA/Swiss citizens should arrange their Dutch health insurance within four months of registering in their municipality.
Another helpful resource is Zorgverzekeringslijn's checklist on how to take out Dutch basic health insurance:
Health insurance for children
Children under 18 should also be insured in the Netherlands. Their insurance cover is free, however, with no monthly premium and no deductible excess.
Children can usually be covered their parents’ insurance provider, but it’s also possible to select different providers. The first month after a child turns 18, they will have to start paying their own monthly premium.
New-born babies need to be registered for health insurance within four months after their birth.
Health insurance for expats & students
Expats and students don’t always have to take out Dutch health insurance. This depends on the duration of their stay, whether they’re doing an internship or working, and if they have insurance in their home country.
The two main options for internationals who want health insurance are:
- Getting regular Dutch health insurance, if you are eligible
- Get a special expat health insurance or student health insurance
If you already have an healthcare insurance and if you are a EU citizen, your health insurance provider can provide you with an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). EHIC provides EU/EEA citizens access to necessary medical care in 34 countries within Europe and Australia. The card is issued by the national insurance company or health service.
Handy facts about Dutch health insurance
All this information is quite a lot to take in, so let’s conclude with some handy facts that we feel you should be aware of:
- Insurers in the Netherlands are legally obligated to offer you basic insurance. You cannot be denied based on age or health profile.
- You can only change your provider once every year, to select your policy for the following year. The deadline for changing providers is 31 December.
- If you receive a low income, you may be eligible to have your monthly premiums (partly) covered by the Dutch healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag).
- Many businesses, including international companies, arrange collective agreements with insurers to offer a small discount to their employees.
- You should know that there may be long waiting lists for certain medical services.
- All doctors may be expected to speak English
Register with a GP (huisarts)
After you have chosen your Dutch health insurance provider, you should register with a general practitioner in your area. You can easily schedule an appointment with your GP to discuss any health issues or concerns you might have. GP’s treat 9 out of 10 medical complaints. If you need a specific type of examination or treatment you might first have to confer with your GP, who will then refer you to the right specialist. To find a GP in your area, you should just Google ‘huisarts’ and the name of your city or area. Some websites also provide comparative listings of doctors based on patient reviews. You can also register with your local pharmacy (apotheek), so that they can keep a record of your history of medication and so that your GP can easily send medication prescriptions through.