The Dutch healthcare system

The Dutch healthcare system

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.

Dutch health insurance for international students

Not all international students need to take out Dutch health insurance. It all depends on a variety of factors, such as the length of your stay and whether you are also working part-time. Learn more about health insurance for international students.

Doctors & GPs

Doctors & General practitioners (GPs) are 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.

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. 

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.

Dentists in the Netherlands

Dentistry is privatised in the Netherlands and not covered by basic insurance policies (except for children under 18 and specialist dental care, such as surgery). Dentists (tandarts) in the Netherlands usually work in their own single-dentist practice and at present most of them still do so, although the trend is that practices are becoming larger with more than one dentist per practice.

Dental care costs

Other dental care can only be insured by taking out "extras" for your policy. Depending on your health insurance, this could cover up to 75 percent of the cost. Dentists list their prices on their website and insurance companies have comparable lists of how much they will cover for each service, allowing people to choose their own level of care and expenditure.

Specialist services

Dental surgeons are usually affiliated with a hospital, while orthodontists work in private practice. In order to visit one of these (or another type, such as a children’s dentist) you will need a referral from a regular dentist. In larger cities, there are also dental hygiene practices, which you don’t need a referral to visit.

Read also

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