When do I need health insurance?
Once you have registered in the BRP (and have a BSN), it is time to register with a health insurance company. There are many health insurance providers in the Netherlands, and a variety of comparison sites to help you find the best and most comprehensive cover. Children up to the age of 18 are covered by their parents’ policy. Many employers have special deals with insurance companies so that employees can access preferential rates, too.
You must register for health insurance within 3 months of arriving in the Netherlands, otherwise you will receive a letter from the CAK (website available in Dutch), the public body in charge of making sure everyone is insured. The CAK will send one warning letter after 3 months, then another a month later, and will finally issue you with a fine and sign you up for insurance on your behalf if you do not get a policy yourself.
What does a basic policy cover?
As mentioned, Dutch basic health insurance tends not to cover dental, mental, and complementary healthcare. However, most insurance companies will offer a ‘bolt on’ for a small extra monthly fee that will cover these types of care.
You can change health insurance provider once per year, and the change must be made before the end of December.
The government decides on the standard package of health insurance. All health insurance companies need to offer this basic plan to everybody without exception and must charge all policyholders the same premium, regardless of their age or state of health. The premium does differ between insurance companies.
The following services are covered within this package, which costs around 100 euros per month at most providers:
- Medical care by General Practitioners (GPs) and medical specialists
- Hospital stay, surgery and treatments
- Medication (some may come at a premium)
- Emergency Medical Transportation
- Mental health care
- Paramedical care
- Up to 3 IVF treatments
- Prenatal and postnatal care
- Medical care by obstetricians and midwives
- Community nursing services
- Various medical appliances
- Medical assistance during a trip abroad
- Smoking cessation therapy
- Up to 3 sessions with a dietitian
- Speech therapy
- Dental help (up to the age of 18)
- Physiotherapy (up to the age of 18)
Types of health insurance policy
There are 2 different kinds of insurance policies. You will have to select one when you pick a health insurance provider.
- Natura (policy in kind)
Your insurance company will directly contract health care providers to deliver services to you. You will have to see a health care supplier selected by your insurance company in order to get your costs fully covered. Your insurance will pay your health care provider without needing further payment from you. This option is usually cheaper than restitution as it limits your flexibility to select medical care.
- Restitution policy
At all times you are able to pick any health care provider you want to go to. You will have to pay the bills yourself and submit the receipts to your insurance company which will reimburse you. The premium for this policy is usually higher.
Supplements and extras
If you would like to also have your dental, physio, or other treatments covered you could also look at an insurance package that provides extra cover. Many insurance companies offer (for example) dental, eye health, or physiotherapy packages for a small extra charge per month.
Eigen risico (Personal excess)
With most insurance policies, the first 385 euros (2022) of medical expenses are your responsibility. This is called the ‘personal excess’, or eigen risico in Dutch. There are some insurance companies that offer a ‘zero’ excess with a higher monthly fee, and equally some companies allow you to specify a higher personal voluntary excess for lower monthly costs.
Zorgtoeslag (Health insurance benefit)
People with a low income can apply for zorgtoeslag, a government benefit that reimburses some or all of your monthly health insurance costs. For more information (in English) about the health insurance benefit, and information about income levels and so on, visit the website of the Dutch tax authority (Belastingdienst).
Exceptions and privileged people
Not everyone needs to take out Dutch health insurance. This may apply to privileged people, people earning income from another country and non-residents. International students do not need to take out Dutch health insurance if they are in the Netherlands for less than 3 years, and if they are not working. If you can't take out Dutch health insurance, you will need to take out an international health policy or make sure you are insured by their own national health insurance, whether public or private. EU/EEA/Swiss nationals can proof they are covered with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
In some cases, people can either utilise their home or international health insurance, whether public or private. This is generally the case if you do not have your ‘main residence’ in the Netherlands.
For more information about using your home insurance in the Netherlands, visit the Healthcare 4 internationals (H4i) website.
Comparing health insurance
Visit the Zorgwijzer website to compare the different Dutch health insurances and the different packages and supplements they offer.
Changing your policy
Every November, Dutch insurance providers announce their premiums for the next year. Every year, you will be able to make changes or switch provider from mid November until 31st of December.
Note that you are officially allowed to change provider until February 1, but you will have to cancel your insurance before January 1 (December 31 at the latest). You will then be insured with retroactive effect from 1 January.
If you are considering changing your policy, these are the kind of changes you can opt for:
- Change the type of policy you have. You can go from a restitution policy to an in-kind (‘natura’) policy or even an budget policy. A restitution policy offers a free choice of healthcare provider, while a in-kind policy limits your choice to providers that have been contracted by your insurance company.
- Change the level of excess. You may opt for voluntary excess (deductible or ‘eigen risico’) on top of your mandatory excess of € 385. The more voluntary excess you have, the less premium you pay.
- Check if there is a special discount available. Many providers offer discount of up to 10% to members of sport associations, people that are self-employed, entrepreneurs or students.
- Opt for a yearly instead of monthly payment.
If changing your policy is not attractive to you, you may look at other health insurance providers. If you are considering changing your provider, you should take the following things into account:
- Does your employer offer a corporate health insurance? Sometimes these packages are financially more attractive then what is available elsewhere, but often you will be able to find a better deal.
- What supplementary insurance do you need? While coverage for the basic health insurance is identical for all providers, coverage and premiums for other medical services like dental, physiotherapy or alternative medicine may differ.
- Level of service: Always check reviews by other customers.
If you choose to take out a new policy with another insurance provider before December 31, your new provider will cancel your old insurance for you.