Healthcare in the Netherlands

healthcare in the Netherlands
Updated 2021-01-08 14:13

The rest of Europe has public healthcare, but the Netherlands goes against the tide; the Dutch healthcare system is privatised. However, this is not really a cause for concern, since it is heavily regulated. If you're wondering how Dutch healthcare works, then keep reading. We will give you all the details you need to know to see if it's a good country of residence for your family or not.

How the Dutch healthcare system works

Dutch health insurance is required by law to cover everything that falls under primary care; this includes doctor's visits, emergency room visits, hospitalisations, and prescription drugs. If you need anything else, such as physical therapy or eyeglasses, you will have to either get a supplementary health insurance plan or pay for it out of pocket.

If you want to see a specialist, you can't just make an appointment with one as you would like in the United States or elsewhere. Your primary care physician (huisarts) is the gatekeeper for everything, so you need to go through them first.

When you move here, one of the first things you want to do is register with your local huisarts. Often, they are not accepting new patients and/or have a long waiting list, so you will want to register with a GP as soon as you can.

Health insurance in the Netherlands

Health insurance is mandatory in the Netherlands, but just the basic package. There are sites like Independer that help you search and compare different insurance providers, as well as their packages.

Some of the leading global health insurance providers are:

Consider having a look at their offers according to your needs and get a free quote on's Health Insurance for expatriates in the Netherlands page.

Typically, health insurance will cost around €100 to €150 a month per adult. You can lower your monthly premium by raising your deductible (eigen risico). For example, for 2020, the eigen risico is €385. However, you can raise that to a maximum of €885 for the maximum discount on your premium.

You can also add supplemental packages, such as dental and vision.

One of the greatest things about Dutch health insurance is kids are free up until they are 18. They still need to have their own plans, but it's completely free of cost, with no premium or eigen risico. Plus, they're not locked into your provider, so if you find a better one for them, you can choose that one.

Do note that you're only allowed to switch providers once a year between January 1 and February 1. So if you're not happy with your current provider, make sure you do your research and switch in that small window of time, or else you're stuck with your current insurer until the next year.

Emergencies in the Netherlands

If you ever have a life-threatening emergency, the number to call is 112. This is similar to 119 and 911, as it will prompt them to send an ambulance out to where you are.

Otherwise, if you have a serious emergency but it is not life-threating (such as a broken arm), you can just visit your huisarts. Should your injury or ailment occur after regular hours, you can go to the huisartsport instead; you will find them in your local hospital.

How to get your medication in the Netherlands

At your appointment with your huisarts, they may prescribe you some medication. They will ask you which pharmacy (apotheek) you prefer to pick it up at, and will send the prescription there.

The apotheek is the only place you can pick up prescription medications from. You can also buy over-the-counter medications there. 

If you need refills, you don't need to make an appointment with your huisarts. Either they will make a note on your file (as with birth control pills) or you will have to call them up to ask for a refill.

Pregnancy in the Netherlands

As with general healthcare, the Dutch are very reactive instead of proactive when it comes to pregnancy. Usually, you receive all of your prenatal care through a midwife. However, you will receive very little screenings unless you have complications with your pregnancy.

When you're in your second trimester, the midwife will ask where you would like to have your baby: at home or in the hospital. Around your eighth month, you can get in touch with a postnatal care (kraamzorg) organisation. The amount of care you get depends on how your home situation is (how many children you have, if you have problems breastfeeding, etc.).

At the bare minimum, you will get 24 hours over eight days. The rate is €4.80 euros per hour. However, you can usually get part or all of it covered by your health insurance, depending on what plan you have.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.