Frequently asked questions
Q: What do I do in the case of a medical emergency?
A: If you experience an acute emergency - severe pain or an accident for example - call your doctor (huisarts), dial the national emergency number 112 or go to the nearest hospital.
Q: Do I need Dutch health insurance?
A: If you work and pay income tax in the Netherlands, you are obliged to take out Dutch health insurance, even if you are already insured back home. Please read our article on health insurance.
Q: How do I get the same treatment I was getting back home?
A: You may talk to your doctor (huisarts) about your condition, the treatment you have received for this complaint back home and your current needs.
Q: Which health insurance package should I choose?
A: Although all providers offer the same standard package, you can find a package to suit your needs on a comparison site. Some of the main ones are ZorgWijzer.nl, Zorgverzekering Informatie Centrum and Independer (in Dutch). You can find more sites by searching for 'Dutch health insurance comparison'.
Q: What is included in the standard package?
A: The standard package includes medical care (GPs, obstetricians and midwives); hospital treatment; (most) medications; dental care to age 18; post and antenatal care; limited physiotherapy, exercise therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and dietary advice; smoking cessation therapy.
Q: What is an Own Risk Excess?
A: Even with a basic insurance package, there will be a degree of excess: the amount you pay before the insurance company covers the costs. You can opt to increase this excess (in increments of € 100) to pay a lower monthly premium. Read more about the Own Risk Excess.
Q: What is the difference between Restitutie and Natura policies?
A: Hospitals and other healthcare providers have contracts with certain insurance companies. A restitutie policy means that you are free to go any hospital or clinic you choose, whereas under a natura policy, you need to go a provider that your insurer has a contract with. If you have a natura policy, you can still go to any hospital, but you may need to pay part of the costs yourself if it is a non-contracted hospital.
Q: I have a pre-existing condition; does this mean I will have trouble getting insurance?
A: Health insurance companies are legally obliged to accept anyone who applies for a standard package. They are not allowed to charge higher premiums for sick and elderly customers.
Q: What are my rights as a patient in the Netherlands?
A: All physicians (including doctors, pharmacists and dentists) are legally bound to confidentiality. They cannot share information about you with your spouse, dependents or employer without your consent. You also have a legal right to see your medical files. Some doctors are not used to being asked for them and may be reluctant to comply, but you should simply insist.
Q: How soon can the doctor/specialist see me?
A: Each doctor has his/her own approach to seeing patients. Some offer walk-in clinic hours, others require you to make an appointment. Appointments are usually within 72 hours. Medical specialists working in hospitals can have a waiting list of weeks, even months. Appointments are scheduled on the basis of objective criteria, such as medical necessity and order of application.
Q: Where can I get antibiotics?
A: Compared to their international peers, Dutch doctors are more cautious about prescribing antibiotics because of rising levels of microbiological resistance. Antibiotics are prescribed only when strictly needed, for example if your body cannot handle an illness on its own. It is highly unlikely you will get antibiotics for a common cold or a sore throat.
Q: I have a mental health problem. Where can I get treatment in the Netherlands?
A: Mental health treatment in the Netherlands is among the best in the world. Some providers offer help in languages other than Dutch. PsyQ is an organisation which offers psychiatric help to people suffering from depression, anxiety or other psychological and psychiatric complaints. PsyQ employ therapists who speak English, French and Spanish. Visit their website for more information.
Q: Can I change my insurance provider?
A: You can change your provider each year before 1 January and sign up with a new one by 31 January. If you choose a new provider before 1 January, they will take care of cancelling your previous package.
Have more questions? Download a PDF about healthcare in the Netherlands.
For a full list of the Expatcenter's partners, including healthcare providers, or for more information on the Partnership Programme, please click here.
The above information is from the publication Dutch healthcare published by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.