Dutch healthcare system

Dutch people are generally healthy, but you still need a healthcare system 😉.

The Dutch healthcare system is supposed to be top ranked in Europe. Basic Health Insurance is mandatory if you are living or working in the Netherlands. This covers your basic needs like doctor visits and hospital visits. This could be different from the way things work in your home country.

Registering with a General Practitioner

If you are new to the Netherlands or recently moved to a new home, this is one of the first tasks you need to do – register with a General Practitioner (huisarts) in your area of residence. You can search this website for huisarts in your area. In the Netherlands, a huisarts is your first point of contact for any health issues. If you have to reach out to a specialist, your huisarts can refer you to one of them. So, do not forget to do this very important step!

Health Insurance

Basic Health Insurance (Basisverzekering) is mandatory if you are living or working in the Netherlands. Children up to 18 years are covered under the parents policy. Health insurers are obliged to accept everyone irrespective of their age, pre-existing health conditions, gender etc. The Basic health insurance covers your everyday needs like huisarts visits, hospital stay, medicines etc. If you are healthy and do not expect to go to the doctor very often, then this is sufficient.

However, everything is not covered. This is where supplementary insurance (aanvullende zorgverzekering) comes into play. Examples are dental care for adults, physiotherapy etc. Insurers are not obliged to accept everyone; they can charge you extra based on your age or your pre-existing health condition.

Types of Basisverzekering

  • Naturapolis: This is the type where the insurer concludes a contract with most healthcare providers. However, the insurer may not conclude a contract with ALL healthcare providers. This is where insurers differ in terms of what they offer. If you visit a healthcare provider who is not contracted, you may have to pay part of the costs yourself.
  • Restitutiepolis: You have the freedom to choose any healthcare provider of your liking and you will get fully reimbursed for your costs by the insurer. The premiums for these policies are more expensive than the Naturapolis (extra freedom of choice you see…..)
  • Combinatiepolis: This is a combination policy which claims to combine the benefits of the Naturapolis and the Restitutiepolis. But in my experience, I have not seen this truly happen because what the insurers can offer in this can vary widely. Most insurers have those annoying star marks* on these policies with respect to reimbursement for non-contracted healthcare providers. Do compare every detail before you decide to choose one. This is also usually more expensive than the Naturapolis.
  • Budgetpolis: Just like airlines, health insurers also provide a budget alternative. This is the low-cost no-frills variant of the Naturapolis. You have a limited choice of healthcare providers and just like the Naturapolis, you may have to pay part of the costs yourself if you visit a non-contracted healthcare provider.

*conditions which are hard to find, read and understand (unike this one 😊)

Costs

You pay a premium (premie) for your insurance. This is usually monthly. If you choose to pay annually, many insurers offer a discount (upto 2%).

Own risk (eigen risico) is the deductible for your insurance. This is the healthcare cost you must pay yourself. The insurer pays for the costs only after this. For the Basic insurance, the government decides the amount every year. For 2021, it is 385 Euro. Here is an opportunity for another discount 😊 -> if you feel healthy and don’t expect to incur a lot of healthcare expenses, you can opt for a Voluntary deductible (vrijwillig eigen risico). This will increase your deductible by a certain amount and in return you get a discount on your premium.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

How to choose an insurance?

Firstly, think about what health related expenses you anticipate? You cannot obviously expect emergencies to happen, but you may have ‘known expenses’ – think of these. An example is a dental treatment which has been long pending – you may need aanvullende zorgverzekering for this.

Do you want complete freedom of choice with respect to healthcare providers and don’t mind a higher premium? Then go for a Restitutiepolis.

Would you rather pay a lower premium? Then think about a hospital/clinic/any other healthcare provider you are likely to visit. This is most likely in your neighborhood. Then choose a Naturapolis. Check the insurers website to see if they have a contract with this health care provider.

Ask yourself this – “Do you expect to have very less healthcare expenses?”. If the answer is yes, you should probably go for a Budgetpolis because these are the cheapest and you don’t mind their limited choice of healthcare providers. You may also opt for a vrijwillig eigen risico which will give you a discount on your premium.

You can compare different insurances on websites like independer and consumentenbond.

When can you switch?

You choose your health insurance for an entire calendar year. Every year between mid-November to end of December, all insurers make their premiums known for the following calendar year. This is the time for you to switch if you wish to.

Here’s wishing you a healthy life and hope you will never need to use your insurance 😊

Leave a comment if you have a question. Hit the Like button if you liked the article!

5 comments

  1. Nice article. So who is your registered GP? I understand if you need dental, this basic insurance doesn’t cover it, right? If no, what are the alternatives, for you in particular…

  2. Aditya, Thank you for subscribing to my blog. I have subscribed to this blog. I developed an interest in the Netherlands through a bird group on Facebook. The admin is based in the NL. During lockdown I started reading the comments in Dutch then English. It motivated me to take up the challenge of learning the language (through DuoLingo) and the culture through independent reading.

    I enjoy this blog since it covers the everyday life of people like yourself. I am seeking well balanced pieces from expats of differing cultures and backgrounds. YouTube videos aren’t always helpful. I find this posting on the Dutch healthcare system very helpful in understanding their private-public insurance system.

    Here in the U.S. the Affordable Care Act has not had an even implementation. It does help the lower income groups yet the premiums have gone so high for what are basically junk policies. Family premiums for a middle class family are very high and deductibles can be over $2-5000 before 80% of the policy coverage kicks in.

    The rates in the Netherlands seem reasonable. Is this because the government regulates the insurers? Is there a public option (government policy) that offers competition? I am very interested in the everyday experiences under healthcare systems in other countries. I am very willing to discuss further with you. For one year I had municipal sponsored coverage through New York City Health and Hospital Corps. It is a basic system of care opened to all New Yorkers and patients pay on a pro-rated basis.

    1. Thank you EmilyAnn for your comment and following our blog! It is always interesting to get a new perspective on everyday things we tend to take for granted. The Netherlands has a socialistic approach to healthcare. Although the insurers are private companies, they function like non-profit organizations and they all provide the same package. They only differ in the number of healthcare providers they cover. The amount healthcare providers can charge for any treatment is also regulated – this in turn keeps the premiums of the insurers competitive.

      It is amazing that you started learning Dutch through Duolingo. I also started there 🙂

      1. Thank you so much for this info! Here in the U.S. we are limited in what the media covers about healthcare elsewhere. I learned about Duolingo from you! Great minds think alike. I will continue to follow and engage if I have something worthwhile to add or a question I cannot get answers on. Wishing you and your associates success with your language exams and inburgering.

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