Guide to health insurance in the Netherlands

Guide to health insurance in the Netherlands

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Everyone living in the Netherlands is legally obliged to have health insurance, whether the Dutch public health insurance or private health insurance.

Foreigners moving to the Netherlands will be happy that the Dutch healthcare system is ranked as the best healthcare in Europe. Most expats living in the Netherlands long-term will be eligible to apply for Dutch public health insurance, which in many cases is mandatory for foreign residents living in the Netherlands. There are some exceptions, however, so if you’re not eligible for Dutch health insurance, or you want extra cover, then you’ll need to take out private health insurance in the Netherlands.

Expat health insurance provider Bupa Global explains who needs mandatory health insurance in the Netherlands and how to choose a Dutch health insurance provider.

Mandatory Dutch public health insurance

Public health insurance in the Netherlands is divided into two forms:

  • The Zvw (Zorgverzekeringswet) legally requires all residents in the Netherlands – including expats – to take out the basic insurance package known as basisverzekering or basispakket, even if you already have health cover in your home country. The insurance coverage is decided upon by the government each year and covers most healthcare services from GPs and hospitals. Insurance companies have to offer the same basic policy to everyone and must accept all applicants regardless of age or state of health. You will typically be required to pay a contribution (an excess fee or deduction) towards your medical bills each year of at least EUR 385 (2016).
  • The second scheme, under the Wlz (Wet langdurige zorg), which replaced the AWBZ (Algemene Wet Bijzondere Ziektekosten) in 2015, covers long-term nursing and care treatment, such as dementia and other severe mental, physical and sensory impairments. The government assesses your situation to determine what care is needed. It is automatically provided and funded by deductions from your salary, although those 18 years and older must provide their own monetary contribution (eigen bijdrage), which is calculated depending on your income, financial capital and living situation.

Who must obtain Dutch health insurance?

Most foreigners who are living or working in the Netherlands are required by law to take out the standard health insurance within four months after their resident permit starts. There are, however, some exceptions depending on your situation. For more information about eligibility, what care and treatments are covered, how Dutch insurance is funded, the excess and help with costs, see our comprehensive guide to the Dutch healthcare system.

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens

Citizens from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland and their families staying less than one year can typically use their European Union Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Although EHIC holders can access Dutch healthcare for up to a year on the same basis as a local, they may have to pay upfront and claim the money back later. You must contact the EHIC whether your stay is considered temporary. You will also only be reimbursed for necessary treatment or medication that has been prescribed by a Dutch doctor.

For EU/EEA/Swiss citizens living in the Netherlands for more than a year, you will need to take out the Dutch public health insurance; retirees may be covered by healthcare cover from their home country but should check.

Non-EU citizens

Non-EU citizens staying longer than three months will need a residence permit, after which they are required to take out the Dutch public health insurance. Some people may need to take out private insurance, depending on personal circumstances or illnesses.


Dutch health insurance is mandatory for foreign students with part-time jobs, paid internships and zero-hour casual contracts. Unemployed foreign students who are not EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, however, are not eligible to take out Dutch health insurance and must instead arrange their own private insurance, unless covered by an acceptable insurance in their home country. You can read detailed information about student health insurance requirements in the Netherlands.


Children under 18 are covered for free under their parents' health care insurance.

Guide to health insurance in The Netherlands

Private health insurance in the Netherlands

If you are not covered by the Dutch public health insurance or you want to take out cover for extra treatments (for example, physiotherapy or extensive dental treatments), then you’ll have to take out a private health insurance policy. Private policies can also offer access to private facilities so you can get treatment sooner than through the state system, as well as other perks, such as not having to share a hospital room.

Unlike the basic Dutch insurance policy, insurance companies are not obliged to accept you for private insurance, and your age and health condition can have an impact.

How to choose a Dutch insurance provider

You are free to select a basic insurance provider of your choice although it can be difficult to choose between different insurers as many of their sites are in Dutch, which, even with online translators, can be tricky to read. You can start by looking at comparison sites, for example, or, in order to find one best suited to you and your family, taking into consideration price, what is covered, and how much is the excess payment (the amount you co-pay for certain treatments).

Bear in mind that some employers also offer corporate health insurance for employees, which may be cheaper than taking out a policy individually.

It is possible to purchase additional coverage (aanvullende pakket) from a different insurer than your basic insurer. Although this might complicate processing your bills, it can sometimes lower overall costs or allow you to purchase additional coverage tailored to international residents in the Netherlands.

What to look for in a basic policy

  • How much is the premium?
  • How does the policy work? There are three types: a policy in kind, where the health insurer has contracts with specific health providers and pays the bills for any treatment directly to them; a restitution policy, where you choose your health provider, pay for treatment upfront and get a refund from the insurance company afterwards; and a combination policy where part of the bill is paid by the insurer and part by you.
  • What is the excess or eigen risico (the part of the cost that you have to pay yourself)? The mandatory excess for every basisverzekering was increased to EUR 385 in 2016; prices are reviewed annually. Increasing your excess payment (eg. up to EUR 885 in 2016) can be a way to lower your monthly payments.
  • Do you have the option to take out supplementary insurance for any care or treatment that’s not included in the standard package?
  • Some health insurance providers offer additional benefits free of charge, such as dental accident insurance. It is in these 'extras' that insurers compete with their basic Dutch insurance package.

What to look for in a private insurance policy

Look carefully at individual packages to find the one that provides the best cover for you and/or your family’s personal circumstances.

  • Do you have any pre-existing conditions?
  • Do you have children?
  • Do you plan to travel abroad regularly and need coverage for any medical emergencies?
  • What are the premiums and excess?
Guide to health insurance in The Netherlands

How to apply for Dutch health insurance

You have four months to take out insurance after arriving in the Netherlands. If you fail to do so, you could face a fine and be billed retrospectively for the time you were uninsured.

When you register with a health insurer, you will be asked to provide your Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer or BSN). This may be issued to you by your employer or by application from the municipal authority where you live or from the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). You’ll also need to provide proof of residence in the Netherlands, as well as an ID document such as your passport and, if you're an employee, a letter from your employer confirming your employment.

Insurance policies are valid from the time you pay your very first premium. The most common method of registering is to either contact the insurer online or by phone.

How to use your Dutch health insurance

Whenever you seek medical treatment or purchase prescriptions, you must present your ID and health insurance chip card (issued by your insurer). Whether you pay upfront for treatments and claim back from the insurer or the insurer pays the health provider directly depends on your policy; check the fine print of your policy.

You must also pay the state-set excess amount (or deductible) towards your healthcare costs each year, which is revised yearly by the government. In 2016, the amount was set at EUR 385.

At the end of each year the government announces next year's basic insurance premiums and you have the right to change insurer once a year, provided you inform them of your intention to cancel prior to 1 January. 


Expatica / Updated by Bupa Global

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Bupa Global offers international health insurance to expats in more than 190 countries worldwide.

Updated 2016.

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2 Comments To This Article

  • Bradley Versteyne posted:

    on 9th July 2014, 14:48:05 - Reply

    I agree with the above totally, its getting worse and worse, we have to pay more for less, its just another tax, but send billions to th EU and to other countries for help and the Dutch have to help themselves, i agree on a good syteem and helping others, but look after your own people first and whatever is left in the pot give it to the less fortunate!!
  • jericho posted:

    on 5th July 2014, 15:00:27 - Reply

    [Deductible] is 360 Euro and at 1.35 conversion rate, that is 482 bucks.

    But I agree holland health care system sucks.