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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 general practitioner, 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

The general practitioner is gatekeeper

The general practitioner (GP) is gatekeeper to hospital care and specialist care. It is not possible to visit a specialist without a referral from a general practitioner. 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 general practitioner cooperatives across the whole country. Read more.

Important if you already know you need health care

Studying abroad is a fun and exciting experience. Keeping yourself fit and healthy is important, especially during your studies. Moving to a new country, without your support network nearby, means the experience can also be stressful. This can affect your physical or mental well-being, so it is critical to have medical coverage that suits your (potential) needs. Before your arrival in the Netherlands, it is important to take out appropriate health and liability insurance. You are also highly advised to register with a local doctor as soon as you’ve found yourself a place to stay in The Netherlands (you need an address in The Netherlands to register). 

NB: It is important to understand that the medical system in the Netherlands is currently running at near maximum capacity. It is difficult to find a huisarts (General Practitioner/family doctor), and there are longer waiting times for referred care, including mental healthcare. Unfortunately, waiting times up to 6 months are not uncommon. Therefore, if you have a pre-existing mental or physical condition that requires immediate medical care/assistance, please plan with these waiting times in mind.

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 general practitioner (huisarts) is your first point of contact for healthcare in the Netherlands, as they provide 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.

- 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 general practitioner 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.