Introduction to Dutch health care

About Dutch health care

Dutch health care is among the very best in the world. The medical system in The Netherlands may be very different to the one in your home country. Please familiarise yourself with the Dutch medical system, before you actually need medical help. Two important features of the Dutch system are:
- The mandatory insurance for all residents
- The gatekeeper function of the general practitioner

Mandatory insurance

In the Netherlands a distinction is made between basic healthcare and supplementary health care. Insurance for the basic, standard benefit package is mandatory. Insurance for additional care is voluntary.

An important part of the health care in the Netherlands is covered within this mandatory insurance. Think of the GP, pharmacy, hospital and mental health care. In addition to this compulsory insurance, residents pay a deductible of at least € 385.

Dental care and physiotherapy are part of the supplementary insurance.

For longer-term care, residents pay an insurance premium via the employer. Read more

GP is gatekeeper

The GP is gatekeeper to hospital care and specialist care. It is not possible to visit a specialist without a referral from a GP. The GP can also prescribe some of the medication that cannot be collected from the pharmacy without a prescription. Specialist care medication must be prescribed by specialists.

For emergency, non-life threatening care, they offer out-of-hour services by GP cooperatives across the whole country. Read more.

Arranging access to Dutch health care

Once you have settled into your new home in The Hague region, there are three priorities for your medical well-being:

  1. Register at the municipality so you will get a citizen service number (BSN). You need this in order to make use of the Dutch healthcare system. The BSN is included in the patient/client data exchanged by healthcare providers, assessment bodies and health insurance companies.
  2. Check your health insuranceDoes your own health insurance cover medical costs (including pre-existing conditions) while living abroad? It is mandatory to have health insurance for a residence permit and for being registered at a Dutch GP/family doctor. When you plan to work alongside your study (for example an internship or student job), you need to have a Dutch health insurance policy within 4 months after you register in the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP).
  3. Find a General Practitioner (GP). A GP (huisarts) is your first point of contact for healthcare in the Netherlands, as he/she provides referrals to all specialists and, if necessary, to a hospital. Registering with a local practice is one of the first things you need to do. The Hague has a GP especially for students.

Notes:
- If you use any prescribed medication or you are diagnosed with a chronic disease it is important to bring a medical report from your previous doctor. 
- Take into account that the GP office needs at least 24 hours to process your registration.
- Find a pharmacy for prescription medicine.

Do you have questions about the above? Reach out to The Hague International Centre.

Health care at your university

All educational institutes offer some sort of (study related) health care. For example, if you feel stressed, depressed, lonely, unsafe or suffer from other anxieties, please contact your international office, dean or look at the intranet to find out about these services.