Dutch public health insurance and the way it works

On June 17, 2019 by Dutch Umbrella Company

Everyone living in the Netherlands is obliged to have health insurance. This also affects highly skilled migrants, expats and foreign students. Although it is mandatory to have health insurance in the Netherlands, there are certain conditions which determine if you are eligible for Dutch public health insurance, or not. In this blog, we will explain the Dutch health insurance system, how it affects you, and we answer, probably your most important question: ‘do I need Dutch health insurance?’

The Dutch healthcare system

The Dutch government is responsible for the accessibility and quality of the healthcare system in the Netherlands. However, they are not in charge of its management. The Dutch health insurance system relies on two laws: the healthcare insurance law (Zorgverzekeringswet) and the general law on exceptional medical expenses (Algemene Wet Bijzondere Ziektekosten). Together they provide for a combination of private health plans with social conditions based on solidarity, efficiency and value for the patient.

The Dutch healthcare insurance act

Following the Dutch healthcare insurance act, all people who live or work in the Netherlands are obliged to have Dutch health insurance. Even if you have medical insurance in your country of origin. This act ensures all Dutch residents have unrestricted rights and access to basic insurance.

As such, it is legally forbidden for a medical insurance company to refuse your application based on your age or medical history. It is also forbidden to add premiums to the basic insurance plan, although the price may differ per medical insurer.

Are you obliged to arrange personal health insurance?

If you move to the Netherlands to work or live, the Dutch health insurance act may oblige you to arrange personal health insurance. For everyone considered a Dutch resident, this is compulsory. We will explain more about this below.

Dutch health insurance for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens

As a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you can use your European Union Health Insurance Card (EHIC) while living in the Netherlands. This only applies if you are staying temporarily (less than a year), and if you do not have a job. In other cases you will need a Dutch health insurance. When living in the Netherlands for over a year, you need to take out Dutch public health insurance.

Dutch health insurance for Non-EU citizens

As a non-EU citizen staying longer than three months, you will need a residence permit. With this permit you are also required to take out the Dutch public health insurance. Some people may need to take out private insurance, depending on personal circumstances.

Dutch health insurance for students

If you are a student living in the Netherlands, the Dutch health insurance is mandatory when you have a part-time job, paid internship or zero-hour casual contracts. Foreign students without a job, who are not EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, are not eligible to take out Dutch health insurance. But you still need to arrange your own private insurance, unless this is already covered by an acceptable insurer in your home country.

Dutch health insurance for children

Are you bringing your family to the Netherlands? Your partner needs personal health insurance, but your children (under 18) are covered for free by your own or your partner’s Dutch health insurance. It is highly important that your children are registered together with one of the parents to receive healthcare.

Types of Dutch health insurance

There are two types of health insurances in the Netherlands:

  • Compulsory basic health insurance (basisverzekering)
  • Private health insurance/additional insurance coverage (aanvullende verzekering)

Dutch basic health insurance (basisverzekering)

While the health insurance you choose can vary considerably in terms of its coverage, a good place to start is with the basic insurance (known as basisverzekering).

The basic insurance package covers all costs for common medical care services. The government makes periodic changes to what is covered by the basic health insurance. The present coverage includes:

  • Medical care, including care provided by general practitioners, medical specialists and obstetricians;
  • Hospital treatment;
  • Prescribed medication;
  • Dental care for those up to 18 years old;
  • Maternity care;
  • Certain physiotherapy, exercise therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and dietary advice;
  • Help to stop smoking.

Private health insurance / additional insurance coverage (aanvullende verzekering)

If the Dutch basic health insurance does not cover your medical treatments, you will have to take out private health insurance. It can also be a choice to cover extra treatments. There are many services that are (partially) covered by a private health insurer, like:

  • Dental care for adults over 18;
  • Emergency healthcare for travel abroad;
  • Vaccinations;
  • Contraception;
  • Glasses and contact lenses;
  • Hearing aids;
  • Alternative medical treatments.

Unlike the basic health insurance, Dutch insurance companies are not obliged to accept you for private insurance. Your age and health condition can have an impact on your approval and monthly fee. But they also compete to offer health plans that are best tailored to your health needs and lifestyle.

The insurance costs

There are two main costs to be paid for your Dutch health insurance:

  • The monthly premium (premie); a fixed fee that is deducted from your bank account each month.
  • The own risk amount (eigen risico); an annual amount that you must pay for some treatments and medicines before your health insurance will cover the rest. In 2019, this amount is up to 385 euros. If you do not have any medical costs in a year, you do not have to pay your ‘own risk’.

The system is funded through these mandatory health insurance fees, and taxation of income.

The best health insurance companies in the Netherlands

A lot of people have an opinion about which insurance company is the best health insurer. But please do not let the opinion of others guide you in your choice of an insurer. Needless to say, the best health insurance company is the insurer which suits your medical needs and budget.

It is wise to get some advice from independent comparison websites. These websites give you the possibility to compare multiple medical insurance companies on different levels.

The steps you need to undertake to get your Dutch medical insurance

1. Apply for a health insurance within the first four months of your stay in the Netherlands;

2. Do some research and find out which health insurer fits your needs and budget;

3. Register with a health insurance company. When you register with a health insurer, you will have to provide some documents and some personal information. The insurance company also needs to be certain that you work or live in the Netherlands. If you apply for health insurance, make sure you are in possession of the following things:

  • Your Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer or BSN);
  • A copy of your passport;.
  • A copy of your residence permit;
  • A copy of your labour agreement.
    If your family moves with you to the Netherlands, you will need to send this information as well.

4. Take your time. After you have applied, all you need to do is wait. The insurer needs approximately two weeks to process your application.

How we can help

In order to weigh all available options within the Dutch healthcare system, we offer our support. To make sure you are signing with the right medical insurance company, we help you with things such as:

  • The height of the premium for the insurance;
  • The height of the excess (the amount you have to pay yourself), where a higher excess may lead to a lower premium;
  • Is it possible to add specific insurance for specific treatments to the standard insurance package;
  • What kind of packages are there if you also need insurance for your children?

In case you do not have health insurance

If you have read the whole blog, you now know that you need to be socially insured while working in the Netherlands. But during your assignment in the Netherlands, you are also required a private health insurance plan. It is possible to arrange this insurance via us. We are able to offer you a deal with HollandZorg, a Dutch medical insurer specialized in health insurances for foreign employees and people who temporarily live or work in the Netherlands.

If you want to know more about this partnership with HollandZorg, please do not hesitate to contact us via support@dutchumbrellacompany.com.

More expat information

Do you want to know more about Dutch health insurance? These articles give you additional information about the Dutch healthcare system.