The quality of healthcare in the Netherlands is good. However, the Dutch healthcare system has specific rules that you must know. On this page, you will find information and an explanation about the compulsory health insurance, the excess, the healthcare benefit, the family doctor, specialist care, and more.
Compulsory health insurance
In the Netherlands, everyone from 18 years of age is obliged to insure himself or herself against medical expenses. The health insurance pays your visits to the family doctor and part of the medicines and treatments in hospital. How much the insurance company pays and which costs you must pay for yourself depends on two things: your insurance package and your excess. You can choose part of the insurance package yourself: on top of the compulsory basic health insurance, you can take out different supplementary insurance packages. In addition, most insurance policies have an excess that is required by law: this ‘excess’ is an amount that you must pay yourself every year before you are entitled to payment under your insurance. The excess does not apply to a visit to the family doctor, so this will always be paid for you. Children up to 18 years of age are included in the insurance policy of either of the parents free of charge. The excess does not apply to children.
You can also choose a cheaper health insurance with a higher excess, but this is not wise if you do not have a financial buffer (savings). Your counsellor at the Dutch Council for Refugees can help you to take out health insurance.
In some municipalities, people with a social assistance benefit can take out extended health insurance. The monthly premium you pay for this insurance is higher, but you do not have an excess.
People with a low income can get a healthcare benefit from the government to pay part of the health insurance. The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) will probably have applied for the healthcare benefit for you before you moved to the municipality. If you do not get any healthcare benefit, discuss this with your counsellor as soon as possible.
If you are having any health problems, you must always first visit the family doctor in the Netherlands. This is the case if you are pregnant, if you need medical advice, or if you have psychological problems, such as sleeping problems, anxiety, and lasting symptoms of depression. Only the family doctor can refer you to specialist care, usually in a hospital. To be able to make an appointment with a family doctor, you will first have to register with him or her as a patient. Also ask him or her if your health insurance is valid at this family doctor. If you had a medical intake at a reception centre, you will probably already have a medical record in the Netherlands. Your new family doctor can retrieve this record at Gezondheidscentrum Asielzoekers (GCA) (Asylum Seeker’s Health Centre) or, after 1 January 2018, at Arts en Zorg.
If you have problems with your teeth, or to prevent these problems, you go to the dentist. You must also first register as a patient with a dentist. The expenses for the dentist are not covered under the basic health insurance. So you must pay for the expenses yourself if you do not have additional dental care insurance. Most dental expenses (including semi-annual dental check-ups) for children up to 18 years of age are, in principle, covered under the basic health insurance.