Many Dutch patients seek foreign medical treatment

More than 82.500 Dutch patients sought medical treatment in neighbouring countries, while a much lower number came from those nations to the Netherlands for the same reason.

These numbers come from the Benelux Union, which is what the Benelux is officially called since 2010. The intergovernmental organisation focuses on economic cooperation, sustainable development and matters of justice and interior affairs.

It’s the first time an overview has been created for cross-border medical care in the Benelux region. The figures are from 2015 and come from both health insurance companies and government sources. The report states that the actual numbers are likely significantly higher.

Shorter waiting lists, cheaper treatment

Dutch patients who seek medical treatment abroad rather than going to Dutch hospitals, cite the shorter waiting times, higher quality and lower prices as the main reasons for doing so.

Patients are increasingly well-informed about their options and do more research to find the best price-quality offering, leading them to seek treatments elsewhere. Especially in the border regions it is becoming common.

Cross-border healthcare

In total, more than 168.000 patients crossed the borders within the Benelux or the borders with Germany and France, for both planned and unplanned medical care.

The majority (almost 93.000) went to Belgium, and more than half of these came from the Netherlands (almost 56.000), followed by 26.000 French and 7.500 Luxembourgers.

The second-largest stream of patients seeking medical treatment abroad went to Germany, and again the Dutch were the largest group with more than 26.000. France is the third most popular destination for medical services.

Around 2.000 Dutch patients sought treatment in France, while only 264 French patients came to the Netherlands, and 9.400 Belgians, 4.300 Germans and 19 Luxembourgers visited the Netherlands to use Dutch healthcare.

Increasingly regional approach

The report recommends that the Benelux countries should support these developments and invest more in cross-border health solutions. Removing any remaining barriers will improve the accessibility and quality of healthcare solutions, encouraging the free movement of patients across regional borders.

That would allow the neighbouring countries to fine-tune their healthcare options to better complement one another.

The Benelux Union would like to increase the awareness among patients of treatment options in all neighbouring countries. An effort will be made to improve the sharing of patient information between countries, along with making the health insurance information of a patient up-to-date right away regardless of the country where treatment is received.

Thomas Lundberg


Thomas Lundberg

Born as a Swede in the Netherlands, this life-long expat has spent his time in Belgium, the United States and Amsterdam. He began his professional career as a regional news...

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