The standard of healthcare in the Netherlands is reasonably high and probably one of the best in Europe. The following article gives a brief overview of the healthcare situation in the country – from taking out health insurance, finding a doctor and dentist to seeking alternative and complementary treatments.
Health Insurance in the Netherlands
If you are coming to live permanently in the Netherlands then it is obligatory to have a basic Dutch health insurance (basisverzekering) policy – even if you already have private medical insurance from a non-Dutch company such as BUPA. You must take out health insurance within 4 months of your arrival. Before getting insurance you will first need to register with the local council (gemeente) and get a Burger Service Nummer (BSN, the Dutch fiscal number).
The cost of basic Dutch medical insurance (zorgpremie) ranges from €105-130 per month for all adults regardless of age and state of health. In addition there is an income related premium paid by employers and the self-employed. Children under 18 do not pay for health insurance, but must be registered under the policy of a parent/guardian. People on lower incomes can get a subsidy for their health insurance costs.
You can choose any one of the 40+ Dutch insurance companies to provide you with a health insurance package for a calendar year. You can purchase a Dutch health insurance policy online.
Payments of the fixed premiums are taken each month by direct debit from a Dutch bank account. At the end of the year you are automatically renewed unless you decide to switch providers – switching must normally be done between 1-31 December.
If you have a job in the Netherlands it could be that your employer has negotiated a collective rate with a specific insurance provider.
Here are a select few Dutch health insurance companies:
De Amersfoortse (amersfoortse.nl)
Nationale Nederlanden (nn.nl)
Note: most of the Dutch healthcare insurance websites are only available in Dutch! Currently only CZ, Menzis and ZilverenKruis have English language versions on their websites.
The basic insurance policy will cover GP visits, general medical care, paramedic, ambulance, hospital stays, midwife care, basic rehabilitation and prescriptions. There is also a compulsory own-risk excess (eigen risico) where you will pay the first €385 (in 2021) of any medical costs excluding GP visits. Some companies allow you to lower your monthly premium by €10-25 by choosing a higher excess up to €885.
Please note that some of the cheaper Dutch health insurance packages such as ZEKUR may only offer treatment at specific designated hospitals; whereas other companies will allow treatment at any hospital of your choice.
On top of the basic healthcare package each insurance company offers various modules which you can add to your policy at extra monthly cost. For example, this could include dental coverage, physiotherapy, alternative treatments or insurance for treatment outside the Netherlands.
Dental care is only free for under 18s and extra dental insurance has a limited payout, it won’t cover you fully for major work. Policy coverage for alternative care seems to have been reduced slightly over the last few years.
If you are planning to have children in the Netherlands then check the level of pre-natal and post-natal coverage on offer from your health insurance company, as this can vary.
Once you choose and purchase an insurance package you will be sent a health insurance card (Zorgpas) with your policy number. You will need to show this card and some ID when receiving medical care. Medical bills will either be sent via your insurance company or you will have to pay upfront and then get (partly) reimbursed.
Your insurer should also send you a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which offers reciprocal basic coverage if travelling to other European countries. Don’t forget to take the card when you travel.
It is possible to access your account online or via app. Some companies require that you login using DigiD, the Dutch government online identity platform.
Students from the European Economic Area (EEA) studying in the Netherlands only need to get the basic health insurance package if they are working. Students from outside the EEA need to get Dutch health insurance – this is best done via the college/university which probably has negotiated reduced premiums.
Likewise for temporary residents (staying under 12 months) and visitors/tourists from EEA countries, the EHIC card issued by their home country should suffice. Temporary residents from outside the EEA should organise a suitable international health insurance policy. We would recommend tourists to the Netherlands have their own private travel insurance as well.
Healthcare in the Netherlands
So you’ve arrived in the Netherlands and got yourself suitable health insurance. You should then register with a convenient local GP (huisarts) practice close to your home or place of work. Most Dutch doctors will speak reasonably good English.
Making an appointment to see a doctor is normally straight forward and many practices have a telephone consultation hour (spreekuur) set aside to deal with patient queries. Personal consultations have been somewhat reduced due to the ongoing ‘coronavirus’ measures.
Be aware that Dutch doctors do not generally prescribe antibiotics for minor symptoms. If you require a specialist you will need to ask for a referral from your GP.
You should also find a convenient pharmacy (apotheek) in your area – though some larger GP practices may have this in-house.
For out-of-hours (non-emergency) care you will probably have to call a special phone number given by your GP surgery. In case of emergency you can go to a hospital (ziekenhuis) to the Accident and Emergency department (EHBO – Eerste Hulp bij Ongelukken). You can contact emergency services by telephone dialling 112.
When on routine visits to a hospital, patients need to register their details before having treatment or seeing a specialist there. Some hospitals will issue you with a patient ID card – you need to bring the card on any subsequent visits.
If you are a permanent resident then you may want to register yourself at a dentist (tandarts). Most Dutch dental practices will require a check-up every 6 months where the dentist or hygienist will clean your teeth. Complex work like dental implants may be referred to a specialist.
Alternative Healthcare in the Netherlands
Alternative and complementary healthcare procedures (such as acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, osteopathy etc) are well established in the Netherlands. If you are interested in such therapies then you will need to purchase an additional coverage module to your basic health insurance policy.
You generally have to find you own alternative therapist – most will be registered with the official national organisation of that particular therapy. A standard alternative therapy consultation will cost €65 to €85; the initial consultation usually costs a little more. You would generally pay the invoice upfront and then request a reimbursement from your insurance company. Most alternative care insurance policies will have a maximum daily and annual amount, for example €25 per day and a total of €250 per year.
Hospitals in Amsterdam
There are a number of hospitals in Amsterdam including the academic institutions AMC and VU. Other than the small OLVG Spuistraat, most are located in the suburbs of the city.
AMC, Academisch Medisch Centrum, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ +31(0)20 566 9111
Boven het IJ Hospital, Statenjachtstraat 1, 1034 CS +31(0)20 634 6346
MC Slotervaart Hospital, Louwesweg 6, 1066 EC +31(0)20 512 9333
OLVG Hospital, Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis, Oosterpark 9, 1091 AC +31(0)20 599 9111
OLVG Spuistraat, Spuistraat 239a, 1012 VP +31(0)20 599 4100
Sint Lucas Andreas Hospital, Jan Tooropstraat 164, 1061 AE +31(0)20 510 8911
VU Medical Centre, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV +31(0)20 598 9898
This article was originally published in 2010. Last updated 2 December 2020. Note, information is subject to change.