Healthcare in the Netherlands

Dutch healthcare is among the best in the world, with people having access to advanced treatments and preventative care during all stages of their lives. The health insurance system in the Netherlands is based on the principle of social solidarity. Together, we all pay the overall cost of health care. Everyone contributes, for example, to the cost of maternity care and geriatric care.

Hospitals use the latest equipment and physicians are continually educated on the basis of the latest insights from the scientific community. General practitioners (huisarts) play an important role in the Dutch healthcare system; they are the first port of call if you have health problems. Patients are free to choose their own doctor, giving you the convenience of choosing one close to home. Doctors have practices in residential areas and operate on an appointment system. If necessary, the doctor will refer patients to a specialist at a hospital. 

See frequently asked questions about healthcare in the Netherlands

Health insurance

Everyone who lives or works in the Netherlands is legally obliged to take out standard health insurance to cover the cost of, for example, consulting a general practitioner, hospital treatment and prescription medication. The government decides on the coverage provided by the standard package. All insurers offer the same standard package. Healthcare insurers are obliged to accept anyone who applies for the standard insurance package and must charge all policyholders the same premium, regardless of their age or state of health. This ensures that every person is protected against the financial risks of illness and hospital admission. You are free to choose from any health insurer (zorgverzekeraar) offering the basic package (basisverzekering). To register for health insurance, you will require a citizen service number (burgerservicenummer, CSN). Please note: If you are not covered by Dutch health insurance, you risk being fined and billed retroactively for the months you were not insured.

The standard insurance package includes visits to GPs, some medications, dental care until the age of 18, nutritional/dietary care, medical aids, mental health services and more. The package does not cover things like aspirin purchased over the counter, certain cosmetic surgery procedures and things for which no supplemental insurance has been chosen (e.g. a root canal treatment at the dentist). 

Changing your insurance provider

You are free to change your insurance provider once a year. To do this, you need to cancel your previous insurance before 1 January and take out new insurance before 1 February. You will then be covered with your new provider with retroactive effect from 1 January. 

Additional insurance

Not all healthcare services are covered by the standard package. You can opt to take out additional insurance to cover, for example, physiotherapy or dental care. Additional insurance is not obligatory and you are not obliged to take out the standard package and additional insurance with the same insurance company. Insurance companies are not obliged to accept everyone who applies for additional insurance. An insurance company can refuse to accept you as a client or can ask you about your health before accepting you.

Standard health insurance premium

You pay a fixed, nominal premium to your insurance company for the standard health insurance package. People on a low income may be eligible for a healthcare benefit to help pay for the cost of health insurance. Children under the age of 18 must have health insurance but do not pay any premiums for the standard package. Parents must register their child with an insurance company within four months of their birth.

* Please note that employees on secondment may have social security agreements with their home countries exempting them from Dutch health insurance.

Specific Information

Source: Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport

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