Health Tips in The Netherlands



Foreigners who become long-term residents and are earning an income in the Netherlands are required to purchase basic insurance from a Dutch company, failing which they may be fined.


The government is only responsible for quality and accessibility of healthcare, not for the day to day management of healthcare facilities in the country. That is the responsibility of the private health suppliers.

If you are a foreigner who has settled in the country and receive income from abroad, you may not be required to purchase Dutch health insurance. Whether or not you are required to purchase insurance depends on your length of stay in the country. If you decide to live in the Netherlands for 1-3 years and can prove that your residence is temporary then you will not need to buy Dutch insurance. Those settling in the country for over three years will have to purchase basic insurance. The basis on which your residence will be treated as temporary or permanent will be your residency permit, income, taxes, membership of social clubs and family life.  

Basic health insurance cover includes:

- Hospitalization costs

- Medical care: hospitals, GP's, medical specialists and obstetricians

- Dental care (until the age of 18, those who are 18 or older are only covered for specialist dental care and false teeth)

- Medication and medical appliances

- Ambulance or cost of any other means of patient transport

- Prenatal care

- Paramedical care

- Hospitals 

There are a number of hospitals, university medical centers and clinics in the country. Eight university hospitals in the Netherlands offer state of the art facilities and specialized services such as high-level emergency departments, neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, advanced oncology and departments for infectious diseases.  


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There are 2 types of pharmacies in the country; the apotheek (chemist) and the drogist (drugstore). 

You will have to take prescriptions to the apotheek and over the counter drugs can be purchased at the drogist. The cost of prescribed medicines from the doctor will be refunded by your insurance company. The cost of certain medicines will not be refunded by your insurance company. You may ask your doctor, pharmacy, or insurance company about whether the cost of a particular medicine will be refunded before purchasing it. 


Almost all doctors (Arts or Huisarts) in the country speak English. Many of them are multilingual and speak at least 1-2 other foreign languages. They are well trained and efficient.  

Emergency Numbers 

In case of an emergency dial 112 (the general emergency number) to call an ambulance. 

In Case of an Emergency 

In the event of an emergency, head straight to the nearest emergency room (eerste hulp). Don't worry about insurance matters as Dutch Law requires all health organizations, both public and private to treat patients in an emergency irrespective of their insurance status. If you forget to carry the mandatory official identification, you will be treated because it is an emergency, and you will have two weeks to produce the identification.