Healthcare in The Netherlands



The Netherlands is regarded as a high-income nation that is a global leader in terms of transportation, employment conditions, quality of education and of course, healthcare. Expatriates bound to this Western European country can expect nothing less when it comes to the standard of medical services, treatment and facilities. 

In 2015, the Netherlands outranked other powerhouse countries such as Switzerland, United Kingdom and Germany in the Euro Health Consumer Index. The report indicated that this country scored high in terms of accessibility after opening around 160 primary care centres that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Generally speaking, the Netherlands allocates nearly 11.5% of its national Gross Domestic Product on health, and as per the Dutch statistics office report released in early 2017, Dutch residents spend around EUR 700 every year on healthcare. Netherlands is indeed highly regarded for its healthcare system that is one of the best not just in Europe but also in the world. With a government that has full blown support for the welfare of its people, it’s no wonder why healthcare is the least of the worries of all expats relocating to the Netherlands. 

Healthcare Coverage for Expats 

Health insurance or coverage is mandatory in the Netherlands. If you work for a company in the Netherlands, ask your employer about a collective health insurance policy. This can be a good option, as it is often cheaper and more comprehensive, but you are not obliged to buy such a policy if it is offered and an employer is not obliged to offer a collective policy. 

People staying temporarily in the Netherlands are not required to purchase health insurance. A long-term stay in the Netherlands constitutes three years and does require health cover. EU citizens can apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) through the national health insurance agency or company in their home country. The card provides easy access to healthcare in European countries in cases of emergency treatment and expedites the refunding of healthcare costs. 

Health Insurance Companies 

Under Dutch law, public and private health organisations must treat patients in an emergency situation regardless of their insurance status. Health insurance companies are mandated to offer at least the basic package for individuals. These companies are tightly regulated for quality, provision of basic services, and the prevention of discrimination - no insurance company may turn anyone down because of race, age or health status. 

The basic package covers medical care including services by General Practitioners, hospitals, medical specialists, obstetricians, hospital stays, dental care, medical appliances, medicines, prenatal care, patient transport like ambulances and paramedical care. There is an option to purchase additional insurance for services not included in the basic package. The health insurance companies annually determine basic health insurance fees. Although the Ministry of Health determines a standard premium, the insurance companies can determine the additional fees. Those below 18 years of age automatically have a basic healthcare package, free of charge. 

Doctors and Medical Services 

A huisarts, a family doctor, does house calls. A referral from a huisarts is required to receive non-urgent medical treatment from a hospital and other specialist health providers. It's the huisarts who informs the hospital about urgent medical conditions. It is necessary for expats to register with a family doctor once they arrive in the Netherlands. Most of them speak English but take note that most there is usually a long wait list so it is imperative to find a doctor before you become ill. Expats can find a doctor by checking: 

  • The community guide (gemeentegids) posted at their local town hall
  • The Artsen-huiartsen section in the Yellow Pages of their phonebook
  • By calling the Centrale Doktersdienst helpline at 020 592 3434
  • By browsing through the doctors in the Netherlands listing online
  • By referral from friends or colleagues 

The municipal health service (Gemeentelijke Gezondheidsdienst) covers all aspects of a child's growth and development between the ages of 4 and 19. Between birth and the age of 4, the consultatie bureau undertakes this role, including childhood vaccinations. For general emergencies, expats can dial 112. 

Hospitals in the Netherlands 

The Netherlands has a plenty of hospitals (ziekenhuis) that offer a wide range of specialties. Some hospitals are attached to universities that carry out advanced medical research. First-time patients will be asked to give details such as their lifestyle and medical history; information that will be entered to the hospital’s database. Expats will be given a registration card or ponsplaatje which they need every time they will go to the hospital. Some of the most prominent hospitals in the Netherlands are: 

Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ, Amsterdam

Tel: 020 566 9111 

Oosterpark 9, 1091 BC Amsterdam

Tel: 020 599-9111 

Jan Tooropstraat 164, 1061 AE Amsterdam

Tel: 020 510 8911 

's Gravendijkwal 230 3015 CE Rotterdam

Tel: 010 704 0704


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