Taking out Dutch health insurance
Healthcare is part of the social security system in the Netherlands. Health insurance is mandatory for everyone who lives or works in the Netherlands and is subject to Dutch social security law. You have to take out a health insurance policy within four months upon registering at the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP) and getting your BSN. Your health insurance will start from the day you registered at the municipality. You will be charged retroactively to cover your medical risk before taking up medical insurance.
Children can be insured through their parents’ health insurance until their 18th birthday. Please note that you will have to notify your health insurance provider if you have a child that is covered by your policy. You will have a maximum of four months after the birth of your child to register them with an insurance company.
Am I subject to the social security law?
When you work in the Netherlands and pay taxes to the Dutch tax office, you are subject to Dutch social security. You can be exempt from the Dutch social security law if you or your family members work for an international organisation or embassy; work temporarily in the Netherlands; when you are an international student or visiting for your academic research. If you are exempt from the Dutch social security you cannot take out a Dutch health insurance policy. International students with a job in the Netherlands need to take out Dutch health insurance. When a family member of an employee working for an international organisation or embassy starts working and starts paying taxes in the Netherlands he/she also needs to take out Dutch health insurance. Check the website of the Sociale Verzekeringsbank if you think you might be exempted from the health insurance duty. You may receive a letter from CAK (Central Administration Office) informing you about the compulsory health insurance and the four-month period after your municipal registration.
If you are in the process of getting a residence permit, you cannot take out Dutch health insurance. For example, if you travelled to the Netherlands on a visa and did not receive your residence permit yet; or your current residence permit has expired and you are waiting for the approval of a new permit; you will need to take out international insurance. If you get unemployment benefits and have a legal right of residence you remain eligible for health insurance in the Netherlands.
Basic health insurance
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)
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.
Deductible excess (eigen risico)
As part of your basic health insurance, there is an annual deductible of 385 euros that applies to most kinds of health care services. This means that you will have to cover the first 385 euros of certain medical expenses; once you go past this threshold, your insurance will pay for any additional costs. The deductible excess stacks up during the year and will start over again at January 1 of the new year.
The deductible is not applicable for children younger than 18 years of age, GP consults and treatment, or health care covered by supplemental insurance.
If you need extra medical care, you can take out additional insurance. You will not be able to change this throughout the year and will have to wait until December to change your insurance plan. Generally, you will be able to select premium coverage for:
- Dental care for adults
- Physiotherapy for non-chronic conditions
- Alternative healing and medication, such as acupuncture and homoeopathy
- Glasses and contact lenses
- Traveller vaccinations
- Podiatric treatment
Prices for supplemental insurance vary considerably in price. It is worth comparing supplemental plans from various health insurance companies to find the best possible deal. Your insurance may ask you questions about your health before issuing you a supplemental coverage.
Changing health insurance
You can only change health insurance at the end of the year. You need to cancel your current insurance policy before December 31 and sign up at another insurance company before January 31 again.
Compare health insurance plans
- Zorgwijzer is currently the only comparison tool in English to explore health insurance options.
- Independer offers comparison tools for many insurance types, including health care (in Dutch).
- Zorgkiezer is an independent website that helps you compare options for health care.
Healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag)
When you have health insurance, you may be eligible to get a healthcare allowance. This is a contribution to the compulsory costs of having health insurance. Whether you are actually eligible for the health care benefits and how high the benefits would be, depends on your income and your household size. Once your income surpasses a certain threshold, you cannot apply for the allowance any more.
- Read more on how to apply for healthcare allowance at the Dutch Tax Office's website.
- Read more about other benefits in our section on benefits.
Please contact the helpdesk of Zorgverzekeringslijn if you have questions about health insurance in the Netherlands.