Healthcare in the netherlands

All information correct as of June 2022

Are you an expat moving to The Netherlands who wants to know more about healthcare in The Netherlands and to know what benefits they can get? The Netherlands has one of the best healthcare systems in Europe. The healthcare system is run by the government and also supplemented by private insurance companies. In order for anyone to have access to these services, it is a must to have health insurance in The Netherlands. Therefore, every time you visit your general practitioner, you do not have to pay 50-100 euros for the visit. Instead, the insurance company pays for your visits to your general practitioner. Furthermore, the general practitioners in The Netherlands will not allow you to sign up as a patient if you do not have Dutch health insurance.

Everyone can access the healthcare system in The Netherlands, ranging from residents to visitors, but of course you can only do this by having health insurance. Under Dutch law, it is mandatory that all residents need to have health insurance, unless you are:

  • A child under the age of 18 who is covered by their parents' insurance
  • A temporary visitor or tourist from the EU/EEA (including Switzerland), who can have access to healthcare through their European Health Insurance Card, also known as EHIC.
  • If you are a visitor outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland, you will need to purchase private insurance.
  • And lastly, those who reject health insurance can apply for exemptions through the Social Insurance Bank.

Furthermore, if your income is quite low, or you have the minimal income in The Netherlands, you are allowed to apply for a healthcare allowance from the Dutch tax office. This applies to individuals who have an annual income lower than 29,562 euros. Remember, your Dutch health insurance entitles you to free medical treatment, which also includes the prescriptions that your doctors in The Netherlands give you. Also, public health insurance does not cover dental visits - this is covered through a private insurance company.

Healthcare in The Netherlands

The Netherlands Healthcare System

So, how does one register for the healthcare system in The Netherlands? The Netherlands healthcare system requires you to obtain a Citizen Service Number, known as a BSN. You can apply and collect your BSN through your local municipality office. Once you have obtained a BSN, you can now register with a health insurance company. Many students pick AON as it covers all health visits and prescriptions as well as dental visits and even theft, plus it is one of the cheapest health insurance companies in The Netherlands, as you only have to pay 50 euros a month. Non-students who want to pick a cheaper health insurance, should go for Zilveren Kruis. To apply for any health insurance you need to provide a few documents such as:

  • ID or passport
  • Proof of address (Such as rental contract or utilities bill)
  • Your personal BSN
  • If you are working you need an employer confirming your employment or if you are a student a confirmation of your enrolment.

Once you have signed up to a health insurance company, you can now register with a Dutch doctor or a general practitioner. Furthermore, you should have received in your email or mail your health insurance card, as it will be needed every time you go to your local GP.

Private healthcare services in The Netherlands are likely not to be covered by your health insurance including treatments like physiotherapy and dentistry. For expats who want full health coverage, they can supplement the national healthcare plan with private insurance. With regard to dentistry, if you want to visit the dentist you might have to look into taking out extra insurance coverage to cover the cost of any treatments, however if you are under the age of 18 you have coverage under the Dutch health insurance package.

Doctors and general practitioners are always going to be your first contact with health care in The Netherlands, meaning if you need a specialist, you must first go to your GP who later will refer you to any specialist you need or a hospital depending on the severity of your health issue or if you need a doctor that specialises in a certain field that can give you proper treatment and prescribed medication.

Healthcare in The Netherlands

Lastly, once you go through your GP, you can usually get your prescribed medicine at the pharmacy (apotheek). If the pharmacy has your insurance company details then you normally don't have to pay as they send the payslip to the insurer. However, if the pharmacy does not have contact with your insurer, then you will need to pay for the prescribed medicine, So make sure that you get the receipt for your prescriptions because then you can submit the receipt on your insurers' website to claim the money back. Moreover, some health insurance companies only cover certain brands, so make sure you look over what your insurers' policy covers before purchasing certain medicines.


Healthcare in The Netherlands can be sometimes frustrating as it can take a lot of time to schedule an appointment. Whne you have health complications call your GP to explain the issue that needs to be looked at and get an appointment as soon as possible. Moreover, if you have two or more health issues that you want your GP to look at, in some cases you will need to schedule separate appointments to get these issues looked at.


In cases of emergency, calling your GP is usually the best answer. To do this, all you have to do is check who the general practitioner in your neighbourhood is online and schedule an appointment. Is cases of extreme emergency, you can also go to your local emergency room or call the ambulance at 112.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is healthcare free in The Netherlands?

  • Healthcare is not free in The Netherlands, the basic plan will cost around 100 to 120 euros.

  • Is healthcare expensive in The Netherlands?

  • Healthcare is quite expensive, you will either pay by higher taxes or through your insurance company - you never directly pay for healthcare, but every person living in The Netherlands is required to have insurance.

  • Is healthcare good in The Netherlands?

  • The healthcare system in The Netherlands is ranked 3rd in the world index of healthcare innovation.

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Residency in The Netherlands