All you need to know about going to the hospital in the Netherlands

Are you curious about what it’s like to visit a hospital in the Netherlands? Here’s how to make it through a visit to the ‘ziekenhuis‘ in 2020.

Healthcare, in general, can be pretty confusing if you’re a foreign national and not used to a new healthcare system. I found it especially weird because I have a national health service in my own country, so you don’t have to pay for any of your healthcare or hospital visits (this is covered via our taxes). Truthfully, it’s taken me 3 years to fully get my head around it, as until you actually fall ill, you’re never entirely sure of the process.

So, on that note, it’s about time for another DR healthcare guide on going to a hospital in the Netherlands. It’s important to understand the process, just in case something happens and you need to go!

* Note, this article is best consumed after reading about health insurance and healthcare allowance in the Netherlands.

I need hospital treatment in the Netherlands — what do I do?

Emergency: If you need emergency care that cannot wait, call 112, This will take you through to either the ambulance, the fire brigade or police. It’s a free number, but everything comes after it may not be free!

If you do not have health insurance, you will have to foot the bill for all treatment carried out. This includes the ambulance that will take you to the hospital. If you have Dutch health insurance, this will be covered by your basic insurance, no matter what hospital you go to — not even if it’s not covered in the policy (their policy only applies for other treatment that’s not an immediate emergency).

Non-Emergency: It is best to go through your doctor first because if you take yourself straight to the hospital it will cost you more. Also, you may find that your issue can be treated via your doctor, so again, this will be a much cheaper and wiser option. You may find that you will need a specialist and they will refer you.

Once you are referred and you turn up at the hospital for the first time, go to the desk and register with them. They will need all your personal details and your GP’s name. You will be given a little plastic folder with all your information — you will need to take this with you every single time you go (I tried to get an X-Ray without registering to the hospital because I had no idea what I was doing, so don’t do that, it doesn’t work). 😉

Staying overnight in a hospital in the Netherlands

So, what’s the set-up like? Will I get a private room? What about children? Can I have visitors to feel sorry for me? These are just some of the questions you are probably wondering.

(And yes, your mummy is allowed to visit and look after you) 😉

Most wards are shared in a bay with up to six patients of all genders. You will have your own phone and TV, but you need to bring everything else with you, as is standard for most countries. Children will have more things to keep them occupied during their stay and you can usually stay overnight with them.

Can I go to the hospital if I am not insured?

Yes, you can, but you will have to foot the bill from your own pocket afterwards. This could end up being very costly, which is why it is strongly advised to talk out some kind of insurance: 1. Because it’s compulsory as a person working in the Netherlands and 2. If you’re just travelling, then it’s worth having travel insurance or something that will cover you — don’t risk it.

The only exception to this is if you got into an accident while being registered to the Netherlands, but were not insured. If you do insure yourself before the 1st of December and you registered under three months ago, then you can claim back the costs that you paid yourself from the insurer. A day over this period and you will not be able to.

How much will it cost me to go to the hospital?

If you aren’t insured, it could cost you thousands depending on your treatment. If you have Dutch health insurance, this depends on how high your deductible is. The lowest is €395 and the highest is €885. If you have already used all of your excess for that year, then you will pay nothing.

Different types of health insurance and how it will affect your hospital visit

For non-emergency treatment, you need to be aware of what insurance you have and how it may be affected. What insurance you buy should depend on what needs you require. You need to go to your GP first if it is not an emergency. There are two different types of health insurances: Natura and Restitutie insurances. Here is the difference between the two:


  • Cheaper than Restitutie;
  • You can only go to certain hospitals and other healthcare providers;
  • Some costs are usually included for non-contracted hospitals (you usually pay around 30% yourself).


  • More expensive than Natura;
  • You can go to any healthcare provider and you will be fully covered;
  • Overall it is cheaper as you will not have to pay anything additional.

You can check what hospitals, etc. are covered by looking at your policy.

Different types of hospitals in the Netherlands

Not only are there different types of insurances, but there are different types of hospitals in the Netherlands.

General hospitals

A standard hospital providing treatments for less specialised issues.

Academic hospitals

These are more specialised than general hospitals and are hospitals that work alongside the major Dutch universities.

Teaching hospitals

These too are more specialised and work alongside a university. Teaching hospitals are used for medical staff who are training (don’t worry, you are in safe hands though, they know what they are doing!).

There’s a lot to get your head around, right? If you stick to this guide and are keyed-up on your insurance policy, then hopefully hospital visits needn’t be as stressful as they were before.

Have you ever visited a hospital in the Netherlands? What were your experiences?

Feature Image: Anna Shvets/Pexels 

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2019 and was fully updated in October 2020 for your reading pleasure.

Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.


  1. Can someone help what will be the ‘actual’ procedure in place to take our visiting parents to the hospital for treatments for non emergency illness? We do have travel insurance.


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