The Dutch healthcare system

The Dutch healthcare system is divided into three compartments:
Long-term care for chronic conditions
Basic and essential medical care, from GP visits to short-term hospital stays and specialist appointments or procedures
Supplementary care (e.g. dental care, physiotherapy, cosmetic procedures)

Long-term care, including disability costs like wheelchairs, is covered by mandatory state insurance.

All regular (short-term) medical treatment is paid for by mandatory private health insurance. Supplementary care may be covered under health insurance, depending on the policy, or be paid for out of pocket.

Dutch health insurance

The first step in healthcare in the Netherlands is to purchase Dutch health insurance.

It is mandatory for everyone to purchase at least a base level of insurance and you must do so within four months of arrival, even if you already have an existing policy that covers you in the Netherlands.

Want to leant more? Check out our Dutch Health insurance section

Doctors & GPs

General practitioners are your first point of contact for healthcare in the Netherlands, as they provide referrals to all specialists and, if necessary, to hospital. Registering with a local practice is one of the first things you need to do.

For more have a look at our Doctors & General Practitioners (GPs) section.

Hospitals in the Netherlands

Hospitals in the Netherlands fall into three categories:

academic, for specialist care and research

teaching, for training healthcare practitioners
general, for less specialised care.

They all provide a high level of care, but they are moving to greater specialisation in different areas. 
Learn more about Hospitals in the Netherlands.

dutch healthcare system

Medicine & Pharmacies

Prescription medicines are only available from an apotheek or pharmacy. You will need to register with your local pharmacy to fill prescriptions.

Learn more about Medicine & Pharmacies in the Netherlands.

Medical emergencies

In the case of an emergency, call 112 for an ambulance. At the hospital, accident and emergency is SEH (Spoedeisende Hulp), or you can go to first aid EHBO (Eerste Hulp Bij Ongelukken).

Try calling your GP first in the case of urgent matters, as they can alert the hospital that you are coming and what treatment you may need.

If your GP is not available, then you should call the Huisartsenpost (family doctor post) in case the matter is something that can be handled without involving hospital care. Contact details vary in each region. To check yours, internet search "huisartsenpost" with your city name.

If you do not need an ambulance, but are in urgent need of medical advice and:
you are not registered with a GP
you cannot reach your GP, or
it is out of hours

You can call the Central Doctors’ Service on +31 (0) 20 592 34 34. The help line is open evenings, weekends and public holidays.

Learn more about 112 or see the most important emergency contacts in the Netherlands.

Basic health insurance to include new breast cancer treatment

The Dutch government has decided that a new breast cancer treatment for women will be available on the basic healthcare package from January 1, 2017.

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Dutch patients unhappy about communication with their doctor

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AMC hospital screens movies for patients during surgery

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Dutch doctors to assist each other in real-time via app

Physicians in the Netherlands will soon have a secure app for sharing patient information with other doctors in order to improve the quality of care.

Many Dutch patients seek foreign medical treatment

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Dental care in the Netherlands explained

Wondering how dental care works in the Netherlands? Here's a short overview, including specialisations, insurance coverage and how to find a new dentist!

New cancer drugs expensive in the Netherlands compared to EU

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