Moving to another country means that you need to get familiar with many practical things that seem so self-evident in your home country. One of these things is the way a country provides healthcare for its residents. Below is some general information about Dutch Healthcare.
Healthcare Services & Professionals
van Vredenburchweg 71
2282 SE Rijswijk the old centre of Rijswijk
2583 EC Den Haag Archipel
Groot Blankenberg 56
1082 AD Amsterdam Buitenveldert
1017 CB Amsterdam Center
2565NT Den Haag Bomen- en bloemenbuurt
2316RX Leiden Leiden-Noord
Prinses Irenelaan 1d
2404 BH Alphen aan den Rijn centrum
Houtlaan 55 A
2334 CK Leiden Boerhaave
The Dutch health insurance system is probably arranged in another way compared to what you are used to. It is a legal obligation for everyone who is registered as living in the Netherlands to be insured for healthcare by a Dutch health insurance provider. Exceptions include expat workers of certain international organisations and embassies, and those with employment/immigration arrangements that ensure their social security amounts being paid in another country. If you have an international health insurance provider, please be aware that this might not be accepted as it is not recognised as a valid Dutch health insurance.
The most important difference between medical practice in the Netherlands and that of many other countries is the predominant role of the huisarts (GP). Your huisarts is the gatekeeper to the Dutch world of medicine. The huisarts treats patients for basic problems and can answer most of your general health questions. He/she will also perform, for example, standard gynaecological or paediatric examinations. Your huisarts will also give you a referral when you need other medical services, such as hospitalisation, maternity care and specialists. If you want to see a specialist, you need a referral from your huisarts. Without that referral, the health insurance will not reimburse the costs. Some specialists are even not willing to make an appointment if you don’t have a referral.
In some countries patients are hesitant to question medical opinions. In the Netherlands, it is common for patients to make their voices heard. One of the most important things for you to remember is to be your own advocate. If you have any questions about the diagnosis or treatment, feel free to ask your doctor for an explanation. You may also ask for a second opinion, but this is not a common practice in the Netherlands.
Health insurance providers have an obligation to accept everyone for the basic (standard) package, irrespective of gender, age and health. And it is compulsory for all residents of the Netherlands to take this package, but you can choose your own insurance provider. The coverage of this basic package (basisverzekering) is determined by the government and is subject to on-going review and change. However, insurance companies can decide themselves how to fill in the required coverage. E.g. all insurance providers have to offer some kind of second opinion. Some allow you to see only local doctors, while others may offer even the possibility to go abroad for this if it is not available in the Netherlands. The basic package (basisverzekering) generally covers (but not always 100%):
- hospital care
- medical care by specialists, GPs and midwives
- dental help for persons younger than 18
- therapists, such as speech therapists and dieticians
- mental health care
- maternity care
- necessary medical help during a holiday or business trip abroad, worldwide
- Children under the age of 18 must also be insured, but are covered under their parents’ premium, as long as they do not have their own income.
It is possible to take out supplementary health insurance but, unlike the basic insurance policy, the insurance providers are not obliged to accept you for this.
The supplementary package can cover physiotherapy, spectacles, and dental help for persons of 18 years and older and alternative medicine such as homeopathy and acupuncture. The contents and premium differ per insurance provider.
You need a Dutch health insurance within 4 months of entering the Netherlands. Within these 4 months, your international health insurance or the health insurance from the country you lived in before may be used if it covers medical costs in the Netherlands. You will have to pay the bill yourself and then arrange reimbursement with the insurance provider.
Yes, it is possible to visit the Emergency in a hospital without referral but it is best to contact your GP first, if the situation permits it. Many problems can be treated by your GP.
For life threatening situations, there is a special telephone number 112. This works throughout continental Europe.