Navigating Dutch healthcare
Welcome to the Netherlands
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In case of emergency
I need a doctor
You can use an online search engine to find a GP near you, or use the following website: https://www.kiesuwhuisarts.nl/.
You can also ask colleagues or your employer for reccomendations.
Even if you are not registered, you can see a GP. You are then a ‘passer-by’ and will need to offer a form of ID, using a passport or ID card. If you are not registered, you may need to front the bill there and then.
If you are a temporary resident of West-Brabant, you can often register at Arene online GP practice.
A special App allows you to contact your Arene GP in your own language. You can also use the App to make an appointment or order specific medication. A GP appointment takes place through (video) calls as much as possible. This saves you having to travel.
If the doctor needs to examine or treat you physically, they will refer you to a GP practice near you.
If you have Dutch healthcare insurance, a visit to your GP is free of charge.
For further research, specific medication or for a consultation with a specialist, you have to pay an initial amount, capped at the level of your ‘excess’ (‘eigen risico’ in Dutch – more information on this can be found under “Health Insurance”).
Some insurance policies don’t require you to pay an ‘excess’ at all.
Make sure you carry your ‘zorgpas’ (health insurance card) with you, or alternatively your ID and BSN (citizen service number), when visiting your GP.
If you are not registered with a GP you may need to front the bill on the spot. You can claim this back from your health insurer.
Do I need to have health insurance?
The legal basic healthcare insurance comprises the following:
- Basic medical care; including care provided by GPs, medical specialists and midwives
- Hospital treatment
- Dental care up to 18 years of age
- Postnatal care (a contribution applies)
- Under certain conditions: therapies such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and nutritional advice.
Here you can read what is not covered by the basic insurance.
In the Netherlands we have nearly 40 health insurance providers. You can choose an insurer that suits your needs with the help of websites such as Zorgwijzer. Most of the time, your employer will be able to arrange your health insurance for you.
The basic insurance is the same for all health insurance providers. Some providers will tell you which medical specialists or hospitals to go to for treatment.
Monthly premiums are around €125.
It is often possible to take out additional insurance for healthcare that is not covered by the basic insurance, such as dental care. The cover and premiums for these additional policies can differ depending on your insurer.
In order to register with a health insurance company, you need a BSN (citizen service number), which you are usually provided with when you register at the local council (‘gemeente’ in Dutch) for the area you will be living in.
If you have a low income, you can apply for healthcare benefits at the Belastingdienst (tax office). You will then receive a monthly amount to cover part of your health insurance costs. Sometimes your employer can apply on your behalf.
You are only eligible for healthcare benefits if:
- You are 18 years of age or older
- You have Dutch health insurance
- Your income is not too high (threshold 2021 € 30.918 or a combined total of €39.972 if you have a partner)
- Your capital is below € 117.107 (or a combined total of € 148.477 if you have a partner)
- You have the Dutch nationality or a valid residency permit.
I need a different type of healthcare
If you need a dentist you can see one without a referral from your GP. You will need to register with a dentist first.
You can find a dentist near you via an online search engine or through this site. You can also ask for recommendations from colleagues or your employer.
The maximum fees for dental treatments have been determined by the Dutch Healthcare Authority.
Dental care is not covered by the Dutch Basic Health Insurance.
It is often possible to take out additional insurance that partially covers dental healthcare costs.
Youth Healthcare Service (JGZ) is a healthcare service for all children under the age of 18. It’s free of charge.
The JGZ advises parents on the care of their infants and small children. They monitor the growth and development of children and offer advice on the upbringing. The JGZ is also responsible for the immunisation of children.
If you move to the Netherlands and you are registered with the council as having young children, the JGZ will contact you. You can also ask your GP or contact the local JGZ yourself by searching online for the ‘JGZ’ in your area.
In the first few weeks after delivery, you receive several visits from someone from JGZ.
They perform the neonatal blood spot screening (or: heel prick test) and a hearing test.
They also ask after your pregnancy, the delivery, your home situation and the general wellbeing of yourself and your child.
You can ask any questions you like during these visits.
Baby Heath Clinic:
During the first four years of your child’s life, you will be invited to attend an appointment at the consultation office on several occasions. The general development of your child will be discussed, amongst which:
- general health, growth and development
- speech, hearing, sight and movement
- upbringing and the home situation
The JGZ also executes the national vaccination program, which protects children from infectious diseases.
The vaccinations continue until the age of 12.
During the school period:
During the school period you and your child will be invited on several occasions to attend a health and development check.
In the Netherlands, we have a good preventive healthcare program. If you are registered as a resident in a Dutch municipality, you automatically qualify for the programme. Most checks and follow-up treatments are covered by the basic health insurance.
What does the program include?
Pregnancy and postnatal care
There are screening programs during pregnancy and for after the birth of a child.
Children are monitored and vaccinated between the ages of 0 and 12 years.
At later ages, there are general screening programs for diseases such as breast cancer, cervical cancer and bowel cancer. You will receive an invitation for these screenings, which are performed at the GP’s office or at a public health centre. With your invitation, you will receive information regarding the purpose and the course of the screening.
Participation is voluntary. If you do not wish to partake, you can return the invitation.
Programs for people with an increased risk
There are also screenings for those at additional risk of specific diseases such as heart or vascular disease, lung disease or STDs.
The flu vaccine is offered free of charge to those with an increased risk of getting seriously ill from a flu infection.
I need medication
Prescribed medication – at the pharmacy:
For prescribed medication, such as antibiotics, you need a prescription from a doctor. The drugs will be provided by a pharmacist who can give you instructions.
Medication without a prescription – drug store or supermarket:
Freely attainable medication, such as pain killers, cough syrup, throat lozenges, skin creams, antacids or antihistamines for hay fever can be bought free of prescription at a drug store (Etos, Kruidvat, DA) or a supermarket.
Buying medication online:
If you want to order medication online, please do so from a recognised supplier. Only then can you be certain the medication is safe.
What to do upon arrival in the Netherlands?
- Wash your hands well and often.
- Keep 1.5 metres distance from others
- Stay home if you have symptoms and get tested immediately.
If you test positively for COVID-19, you are obliged to report this: Call 0800-1351
If you have a cold (blocked or runny nose, throat ache, cough) you do the following:
- Have yourself tested
You can make an appointment for a test via the following website: coronatest.nl or by calling 0800-1202.
You will be asked a number of questions on the website or phone. After that you can make your appointment for a test.
You need a BSN (citizen service number) and you will receive the results within 48 hours.
- stay at home
- wait for the results
- Do not do your groceries or receive visitors. Ask others to get your groceries for you or have them delivered.
- Members of your household without symptoms are subject to the same rules.
- Once you have been free of symptoms for 24 hours, you may go out.
When to call the GP?
You call the GP or ambulance service if one or more of the following situations apply:
- your illness has been getting worse for several days
- you are having more and more trouble breathing (when walking, for example)
- You are getting more and more confused
- You have had a fever for more than 3 days
- You are over the age of 70, suffering from a chronic disease or a weakened immune system AND develop a fever.
Do NOT go to your GP, the ambulance service or the hospital. This could cause infection of others.
In life-threatening situations, always phone 112.