The medical system is a social provision, which means that everyone has health care insurance and access to care. The state also provides regular check-ups for children. The basic system starts with health insurance (or ‘zorgverzekering’ in Dutch) often provided through an employer. More information about health insurance is found on this webpage of EURAXESS Netherlands. Read up on how the following topics are relevant for medical care.
- Pregnancy & maternity
- Healthcare for internationals
Once insured, it is important to register at a ‘huisarts’ (physician, medical doctor or GP). You can find your closest doctor through this independent website which helps choosing your 'huisarts'. Your ‘huisarts’ is your first point of contact for any illness except for emergencies. He or she will direct you to specialists when needed. Seeing a specialist requires a referral (‘verwijsbrief’) if you want the insurance to cover the specialist’s fees.
You can obtain prescribed drugs at your local pharmacy (‘apotheek’), which you can locate through this website. You do need a prescription (‘recept’) from your doctor beforehand. A ‘drogist’ is a shop that solely sells over-the-counter medicines, as well as day-to-day personal hygiene items.
There are many good hospitals in the Netherlands and all can be expected to have a high level of care. Most Dutch hospitals offer the same specializations. However, some do specialize in particular ailments. Your physician can direct you to a suitable one if this is the case. Unless it is an emergency, you will need a referral letter from your GP to go to a hospital in the Netherlands.
The general emergency phone number for fire, police and ambulance service is 112. The emergency department in hospitals is called ‘EHBO’ (short for ‘eerste hulp bij ongevallen’) or ‘SEH’ (short for ‘spoedeisende hulp’). You can go straight to the EHBO/SEH unit at your nearest hospital to receive immediate attention following an accident. Take your insurance card for the hospital records. They will bill you after your treatment and this amount can be reclaimed from your insurance company.
Children under 18 do require a basic Dutch health insurance but can be registered free of charge under the (supplementary) policy of one of their parents. Make sure that you register your children with your health insurance provider. Newborns must be registered within 4 months. Children are given basic care and vaccinations through the local child health centre (‘consultatiebureau’) for children under 4 years of age, but in case of illness they should visit a physician.
In the Netherlands, there is a unique system of midwives and gynaecologists. Midwives guide the healthy pregnancies and regular births with the gynaecologist only stepping in in case of complications. When you are pregnant you can contact a midwife immediately or through your physician’s referral, more information is found on this webpage. If there is no compelling medical reason to deliver in the hospital, you do have to check with your insurance company if you have full coverage for that. In the Netherlands medical pain relief during delivery is not standard, but always an option.
After birth or when you return home with your baby, a maternity assistant (‘kraamzorg’) will take care of you and your baby at your place. You have to check with your insurance company how to arrange the ‘kraamzorg’. All new-borns must be registered within 3 days after birth at the town hall (‘gemeentehuis’). The Dutch social security system pays an allowance to help pay for the cost of child raising. To receive it, you must make an application at the Sociale Verzekeringsbank, you can find more information about making an application at their website.
Choosing a dentist (‘tandarts’) is just like choosing your doctor. Through this website you can find a dentist near you. Dental care tends to be rather expensive; if you want, you can get a written estimate for recommended treatment prior to undergoing the procedures. If you have a Dutch basic health insurance policy, your insurance company bears the costs of all dentistry for your children up to the age of 18 as well as dental surgery for all adults. All other dental care, which makes up the majority of the care you receive, can only be insured by taking out additional healthcare insurance.
Healthcare in the Netherlands is considered to be amongst the best in the world. Healthcare practices may however be quite different from what you are used to in your home country and, as a consequence, you may feel that your needs and expectations are not fully met by Dutch healthcare. Healthcare for internationals (H4i) is a network of Dutch healthcare providers that are making an effort to close the gap between Dutch healthcare and the needs and expectations of internationals. Visit their website for more information.