It is now mandatory for all Dutch residents to take out a minimum level of basic healthcare insurance (basisverzekering). Residents of the country who do not have health cover could face a hefty fine.
As a foreigner, you have four months from registering with the authorities to sort out health insurance. However, it is important to note that the insurance company will charge you from the moment that you register with the gemeente — and not from the moment that you take out the insurance. As a resident of the Netherlands, you must take out Dutch health cover even if another insurance policy from abroad would cover you.
You are free to decide which company you take out insurance with, though; www.kiesbeter.nla can help you choose.
The basic health insurance package is fairly similar across all providers, although costs might vary. Insurers that operate exclusively online tend to be far more economical than those that have a fixed office.
Expect to pay around €100 per month for the basic package. In addition to this, you will be asked to pay the first €350 of your medical expenses each year. This amount, known as eigen risico (‘own risk’) will be deducted from your bank account without prior notification within eight months of the end of the insurance year in which you sought medical treatment. The eigen risico amount increases each year.
No insurance company can refuse to insure you for basic health cover, regardless of your age, lifestyle or medical condition.
If your income is under a certain minimum level, you can apply for an allowance from the tax authorities to help you with healthcare insurance (zorgtoeslag). More details of this are available at www.toeslagen.nl.
Basic insurance covers visits to your general practitioner (huisart), hospital stays and prescription medicine. Dental care is included for children up to the age of 18, but you must take out additional insurance if you want adult dental cover.
If you opt for this, make sure you check exactly what it covers, since policies often have limits on what you can claim for. Most insurers will require you to have a dental check-up before you take out the insurance policy.
If you want to take out more comprehensive health cover, you should shop around as the benefits and costs of different packages can vary quite significantly.
Some insurance companies will allow you to choose where to be treated and others will have a list of the establishments where you can go.
Once you are insured, you should register with a family clinic. If you want to see a specialist, you must have a referral from your family doctor, otherwise your insurance company will not pay for it. Specialists can be extremely costly in the Netherlands, so it is wise to know in advance how much you will have to pay before you go — and to make sure that your insurance will cover the cost.
If you have Dutch health insurance, the medical provider will invoice your insurer directly and you will not have to pay anything.
If you are employed, you may be entitled to enrol in a collective health insurance scheme, which could give you a discount.
You are only allowed to change your health insurance company in November.
If you need emergency treatment, you will be asked to show proof of Dutch insurance. If you cannot show this, then you will have to pay up-front and seek reimbursement from your home country afterwards, if you are entitled to do this.
If you don’t have health insurance, medical treatment in the Netherlands can be extremely expensive. Even in an emergency, you may be forced to pay up-front registration costs, which could be as high as €200, before you are even seen by a medical professional. Even if you have travel insurance or a European medical health card that entitles you to reimbursement from your home country, the Dutch are meticulous in making sure you pay before you are seen.
The Stichting Mobiele Artsen Service Haaglanden offers medical support in The Hague and surrounding areas when general surgeries are closed (typically during weekends and weekdays after 5pm). Your health insurance will cover the costs of this service. If you don’t have any insurance, the consultation fee is around €40. You will also have to pay any additional treatment costs, but registration is free.