Private: Healthcare in the Netherlands

Understanding Healthcare in the Netherlands: A Guide for Expats

Accessing healthcare services is an essential aspect of settling into a new country, especially for expatriates. If you are planning to move to the Netherlands, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the Dutch healthcare system to ensure you can access the necessary medical services when needed. In this article, we will provide an overview of the Dutch healthcare system and guide expatriates on how to access healthcare services in the Netherlands.

The Dutch Healthcare System: An Overview

The Netherlands boasts a well-organized and comprehensive healthcare system, which is known for its high-quality care and accessibility. The Dutch healthcare system is based on a mandatory health insurance model, where every resident is required to have health insurance coverage. This system ensures that everyone has access to essential medical services.

Health Insurance in the Netherlands

As an expatriate, it is important to understand the health insurance requirements in the Netherlands. You are obligated to have Dutch health insurance if you are living or working in the country, regardless of your nationality. This requirement applies to both short-term and long-term stays.

There are two types of health insurance in the Netherlands:

  1. Basisverzekering (Basic Insurance): This is the mandatory basic health insurance that covers essential medical care, including visits to general practitioners, hospital stays, and prescription medications. The coverage is standardized across all insurance providers, and the government sets the basic package.
  2. Aanvullende verzekering (Supplementary Insurance): This is optional additional insurance that covers extra services not included in the basic insurance package, such as dental care, physiotherapy, and alternative medicine.

It is important to note that the basic insurance package is provided by various insurance companies, and you can choose the one that best suits your needs. However, the coverage and costs of the basic insurance are regulated by the government, ensuring that everyone has equal access to essential healthcare services.

Registering with a General Practitioner (Huisarts)

Once you have obtained health insurance, the next step is to register with a general practitioner (GP) or huisarts. A GP is your primary point of contact for non-emergency medical care. They provide general healthcare services, diagnose illnesses, prescribe medications, and refer patients to specialists if necessary.

Registering with a GP is essential as it ensures continuity of care and allows you to access healthcare services whenever needed. To register with a GP, you can search for a local practice in your area and contact them to inquire about registration procedures. Some GPs may have waiting lists, so it is advisable to start the registration process as soon as possible.

Accessing Specialist Care

If your condition requires specialized care, your GP will refer you to a specialist. In the Netherlands, specialist care is provided by medical specialists, such as cardiologists, dermatologists, or orthopedic surgeons, who work in hospitals or specialized clinics.

It is important to note that access to specialist care in the Netherlands is regulated through a system called "zorgverzekeringswet" (care insurance act). This system ensures that everyone has equal access to specialist care, and the costs are covered by your health insurance.

Healthcare Costs and Insurance Coverage

Understanding the costs and insurance coverage in the Dutch healthcare system is crucial for expatriates. Here are some key points to consider:

Healthcare Costs

The Dutch healthcare system operates on a cost-sharing basis, where individuals are responsible for paying a portion of the healthcare costs. The costs are divided into:

  1. Premium: This is the monthly fee you pay for your health insurance.
  2. Excess (Eigen Risico): This is the amount you need to pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. The excess amount is set annually by the government and applies to most healthcare services, excluding certain preventive care services.
  3. Co-payment (Eigen Bijdrage): This is an additional contribution you may need to pay for specific healthcare services, such as dental care or prescription medications.

It is important to review your insurance policy to understand the specific costs and coverage provided by your insurance provider.

Insurance Coverage

The basic insurance package covers essential medical care, including visits to GPs, hospital stays, and prescription medications. However, it is important to note that certain services may have limitations or require additional co-payments.

Supplementary insurance can provide additional coverage for services not included in the basic insurance package. This can include dental care, physiotherapy, and alternative medicine. The coverage and costs of supplementary insurance vary depending on the insurance provider and the chosen package.

When choosing insurance coverage, it is advisable to assess your healthcare needs and consider any pre-existing conditions or specific services you may require.

Emergency Healthcare Services

In case of a medical emergency, the Netherlands has a well-developed emergency healthcare system. Here are some important points to remember:

Emergency Number

In case of a life-threatening emergency, dial 112 to reach the emergency services, including ambulance, police, or fire department.

Emergency Rooms (Spoedeisende Hulp)

If you require immediate medical attention but it is not life-threatening, you can visit the emergency room (spoedeisende hulp) of the nearest hospital. The emergency rooms are equipped to handle a wide range of medical emergencies.

After-Hours Care (Huisartsenpost)

If you require non-emergency medical care outside regular office hours, you can contact the huisartsenpost (general practitioner's post). The huisartsenpost provides medical care during evenings, weekends, and public holidays when regular GP practices are closed.


Accessing healthcare services in the Netherlands is a straightforward process for expatriates. By understanding the Dutch healthcare system, obtaining health insurance, registering with a GP, and familiarizing yourself with emergency healthcare services, you can ensure that you have access to the necessary medical care when needed.

Remember to review your insurance policy to understand the costs and coverage provided by your insurance provider. Additionally, staying informed about the Dutch healthcare system and any updates or changes will help you navigate the system more effectively.

As an expatriate, taking care of your health is essential for a smooth transition and a successful stay in the Netherlands. By being proactive and informed, you can enjoy the benefits of the high-quality healthcare system that the country offers.