Everyone living in the Netherlands must have Dutch health insurance, whether public health insurance in the Netherlands or private health insurance.
This guide on health insurance in the Netherlands covers the following topics:
- The healthcare system and health insurance in the Netherlands
- Who needs health insurance in the Netherlands?
- Public health insurance in the Netherlands
- How to apply for public health insurance
- Private health insurance in the Netherlands
- Health insurance costs and reimbursements
- Health insurance for unemployed or low earners
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The healthcare system and health insurance in the Netherlands
Foreigners moving to the Netherlands will be assured to hear the Dutch healthcare system is ranked as the second best in Europe (behind only Switzerland) in the Euro Health Consumer Index.
It is mandatory to have some form of health insurance in the Netherlands to access a range of healthcare services.
There are certain conditions, however, which determine if you are eligible for public insurance or will instead need to take out a private plan.
Who needs health insurance in the Netherlands?
Most foreigners who are living or working in the Netherlands are required by law to sign up to the Dutch public health insurance system within four months of their residency commencing.
There are, however, some exceptions depending on your situation. Euraxess provides a flowchart to see which Dutch health insurance is required for your situation.
Public health insurance in the Netherlands
There are two forms of public health insurance in the Netherlands.
The Zvw (Zorgverzekeringswet) system legally requires all residents in the Netherlands to take out a basic Dutch public health insurance package known as basisverzekering or basispakket.
The breadth of health insurance coverage is decided by the government each year and covers most healthcare services including visits to the doctor and hospitals.
Health insurance companies have to offer the same basic policy to everyone and must accept all applicants regardless of age or their medical history.
Public health insurance companies typically charge a contribution (an excess fee or deduction) towards your medical bills each year of at least €385 (2019).
The second scheme, under the Wlz (Wet langdurige zorg), covers long-term nursing and care treatment, such as dementia and other severe mental, physical and sensory impairments.
Under this system, the government assesses your situation to determine what care is necessary.
Residents aged 18 years and older must provide a monetary contribution (eigen bijdrage) from their salary, which is calculated depending on income, financial capital, and living situation.
Who is covered by public health insurance in the Netherlands?
- Employees: as a general rule, all foreigners who work in the Netherlands, including internships and volunteer positions, must take out Dutch public health insurance.
- Children: Children under 18 receive free coverage under their parents’ Dutch health care insurance plan.
- EU/EEA/Swiss citizens: citizens from the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland and their families staying temporarily (and not working) for less than one year can typically use their European Union Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You may have to pay upfront and claim the money back later. You will also only be reimbursed for necessary treatment or medication that has been prescribed by a Dutch doctor. EU/EEA/Swiss citizens living in the Netherlands for more than a year will need to take out Dutch public health insurance. Retirees may be covered by healthcare cover from their home country but should check.
- Non-EU citizens: those staying longer than three months need a residence permit. After this, they must take out the Dutch public health insurance. Some people may need to take out private insurance, depending on personal circumstances or illnesses, explained below.
- Students: Foreign students must get Dutch health insurance if they have a part-time job, a paid internship, or a zero-hour casual contract.
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.
What is covered by Dutch public health insurance?
The basic Dutch insurance package typically covers all costs for common medical care services.
The Dutch government decides yearly what the basisverekering includes. The current basic health package in the Netherlands cover the following:
- GP consultations
- treatments from specialists and hospital care
- dental care and physiotherapy up to 18 years old
- care from certain therapists, such as speech therapists
- basic mental health services
- anti-smoking programs
- dietary advice
- obstetrics and maternity care.
How to apply for public health insurance
You have four months to take out health insurance in the Netherlands after arriving.
Failing to do so leaves you liable for a hefty fine and a retroactive bill.
When you register with a health insurance company, you must provide your Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer or BSN). This is 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 identification document. If you’re an employee, you’ll also have to provide a letter from your employer confirming your employment.
How to use your health insurance
Whenever you seek medical treatment or purchase prescriptions, you must present your ID and Dutch health insurance card.
Whether you pay up front for treatments and claim back from the insurer or the insurer pays the health provider directly depends on your policy.
You must also pay the state-set excess amount (or deductible) towards your healthcare costs each year; the Dutch government revises this annually. For 2019, the amount is €385.
Dutch residents may change health insurance providers once per year, as long as you declare your intentions to cancel prior to 1 January.
How to choose a public health insurance provider
You are free to select a basic Dutch insurance company of your choice.
However, it can be difficult to choose between different insurers; many of their websites are only available in Dutch, which, even with online translators, can be tricky to read. You may find some Dutch health insurance companies that provide information in English.
In order to find an insurance company 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).
Some employers also offer corporate health insurance schemes 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 health insurance coverage tailored to foreigners in the Netherlands.
Some of the main public healthcare providers in the Netherlands include:
- Achmea Insurance
- Agis Zorgverzekeringen
- DSW Zorgerzekeraar
- Menzis Zorg en Inkomen
- Univé Verzekeringen
- VGZ Zorgverzekeraar Insurance
Private health insurance in the Netherlands
If you are not covered by the public Dutch health insurance or you want to take out cover for extra treatments (for example, physiotherapy, psychiatric care or extensive dental treatments), then you’ll have to take out a private health insurance policy.
Unlike the basic Dutch insurance policy, insurance companies are not obliged to accept you for private insurance. As a result, your age and health condition can impact your chances of approval.
You may also consider getting an international health insurance plan, particularly if you travel a lot. Read how to choose between local or international private health insurance.
The advantages of getting private health insurance coverage in the Netherlands
As well as more specific cover, private health insurance also typically offers access to private facilities so you can get treatment sooner than through the state system.
There are other perks, too, such as not having to share a hospital room and more comprehensive services for in-patient and out-patient care, hospices, rehabilitation and maternity.
How to choose a health insurance provider
Private health insurance policies are valid from the time you pay your very first premium.
The most common method of registering is to either contact the health insurance company online or by phone.
When comparing providers, ask the following questions:
- 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 the insurer partially covers the bill.
- what is the excess or eigen risico (the part of the cost that you have to pay yourself)? The mandatory excess for every basisverzekering is €385in 2019; the government reviews prices annually. Increasing your excess payment (e.g., up to €885) can be a way to lower your monthly payments.
- can you 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.
Look carefully at individual packages to find the one that provides the best cover for your circumstances. Consider the following:
- do you have any pre-existing conditions?
- what are the premiums and excess?
- do you have children?
- do you plan to travel abroad regularly and need coverage for any medical emergencies
There are more than 150 Dutch health insurance companies, with some of the largest including:
Health insurance costs and reimbursements
Residents in the Netherlands pay among the highest in Europe for insurance, and costs are only getting higher.
The cost of your Dutch public health insurance depends on many factors, but general packages start around €100.
The research institute MoneyView predicted that premiums would increase by 5.7% on average in 2019.
This, however, is largely due to Dutch health insurance monthly payments.
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 or the Dutch government’s web page on Dutch health insurance.
Health insurance for unemployed and low earners
Low-income earners may be eligible to apply for healthcare benefit for support with the payments.