Moving to the Netherlands? You’re going to need Health Insurance

Welcome! I figured you’re here because you want to get your head around how health insurance works in the Netherlands. Well, luckily for you, DutchReview has come to the rescue. This ultimate guide will get you well on your way to both understanding and securing health insurance in the Netherlands, and get you a ‘zorgverzekering’ that is right for you.

Before we begin, like many other countries, there is no need for a disclaimer to say that you’re going to become bankrupt once you take out health insurance in the Netherlands *loud exhale*. In fact, the Netherlands has one of the most affordable healthcare packages around – no matter what ailments you may have. Now I’ve delivered the good news, let’s get started on all you need to know about health insurance in the Netherlands – it’s gonna be a long one, prepare yourselves.

Here are all the questions we know you’d ask when thinking about healthcare insurance in the Netherlands – and we’ll answer ’em.

And we’re cracking some jokes while we’re at it, because getting health care insurance in the Netherlands should be a bit fun too

 

So, how do I qualify for health insurance in the Netherlands?

To get Dutch health insurance if you’re an international, you must be living in the Netherlands. If your residence permit has been denied for instance, then you will not be able to take out Dutch insurance. This also goes for temporary stays. There are special international insurances that you can take out, however, you can only apply if you do not have a permanent residence permit, you do not live in a reception facility for asylum seekers and of course, you don’t already have Dutch health insurance.

So to put it simply, if you don’t live in the Netherlands, then you either shouldn’t or won’t be able to get health insurance!

How much does it cost to have Dutch health insurance?

Dutch health insurance is actually incredibly affordable in comparison to many other countries. Although it may not have a National Health Service, the government has made sure that healthcare in this country is both affordable and accessible to all. What does this mean exactly? Well, in the Netherlands you have what you call a ‘basic healthcare’ package, which is around €100 per month. This covers you for the basics when it comes to healthcare – so this means emergency care, some mental health care, GP services, some medication, some emergency treatments abroad, ambulances, dental care for the u18’s and some maternity care, to list but a few. It is for otherwise healthy individuals who don’t need any specific and specialist treatment (then you pay another affordable fee on top for these services, it’s called ‘aanvullende verzekering’).

When getting healthcare in the Netherlands, everybody has the same premium, no matter how many illnesses you may have. So if you feel like you’re falling apart, don’t worry, you’ve got this covered! With this basic healthcare package, you pay around €100 and then your excess (your ‘own risk’ fee) is €395 for the whole year (we’ll touch more on this later). You can alter this though, so you can pay less each month, but your (voluntary) excess is much higher. You’ll notice though, as the years go by, that the basic package goes up a tad, but that’s to be expected (just look at food prices! But it’s also becoming a political thing nowadays in the Netherlands)

Dutch healthcare insurance
Lucky you won’t have to fork out thousands – yes I’m talking to you America 😉

The price of Dutch health insurance in 2018-2019

Although the prices are relatively low, having health insurance in the Netherlands still isn’t cheap, and Dutch people and expats are complaining about rising prices left and right. In 2018, basic health insurance in the Netherlands would cost 1,378 euros per year per person on average. This, however, is not the same as the annual premium paid because that differs from person to person and there’s also a thing called healthcare allowance in the Netherlands (aka zorgtoeslag). Which again differs if you get it and how much on the basis of your income.

Is Health Insurance in the Netherlands compulsory?

Yes (most likely), is the short answer. Well, if you’re here for a short stay and you’re not working, then it is not compulsory, however you must have some other form of cover (such as health insurance in another country that you can use, or an EHIC card), or it’s going to get very pricey if you happen to fall ill. For EU citizens this is up to a year if you’re not working and for non-EU citizens, 4 months. Even if you just moved to the Netherlands and start working the next day, you must take out Dutch health insurance, as you’re working. I repeat: if you’re working, you must take out Dutch health insurance!

What happens if I do not take out health insurance?

You will be penalized with hefty fines if you do not take out health insurance in the Netherlands. First of all, you will receive a letter, asking you to get health insurance within the next 3 months. If you ignore this and still don’t, then you will be issued with a fine of €386,49 (may vary after 2018). Once you’ve paid your fine, and you STILL haven’t got health insurance within 6 months (why pay the fine and then not do that?!), then you will get another fine, for the exact same amount – €386,49.

If still you’re not getting health insurance, by which point you’ve paid €772,98, then they will sign you up to a health insurance provider and just deduct the health insurance fee from your salary. Honestly, to get to that point would be stupid anyway – you’ve just paid almost €800 to NOT be insured and health insurance is around €100 per month anyway. Just pay your bills guys, be good.

Help! I can’t afford health insurance!

Okay, so maybe you literally just can’t afford health insurance and this is why you’re considering not getting health insurance. If you’re not working for whatever reason, or your wages are just not making ends meet, then the government understands this. This is why they have set up a healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag) for people on low incomes, so there is no excuse not to be insured (affordable healthcare for all!). The maximum amount of healthcare allowance you can be entitled to is €94 per month. This is paid into your bank account a few days before the healthcare fee is due, so you won’t even notice the money is missing!

There are a few conditions to this, however. They are that:

  • You must be 18 or older
  • And you must have Dutch healthcare insurance
  • You (and your tax partner) must be a Dutch national or have a legal residence permit (and have a BSN)
  • And you have not earned more than €28,720 on your own
  • You have not earned more than €35,996 jointly, if you have a tax partner
  • And you must not have assets greater than €113,415 on your own
  • You must not have joint assets greater than €143,415 if you have a tax partner

Here’s a table guide, so you can work out on estimate how much Dutch healthcare allowance you will receive

Table of healthcare allowance payout in the Netherlands in 2018

Annual wage Without fiscal partner With fiscal partner
€0 €94 €176
€12.000 €94 €176
€16.000 €94 €176
€19.000 €94 €176
€20.500 €94 €176
€21.000 €88 €170
€21.500 €83 €164
€22.000 €77 €159
€23.000 €66 €148
€24.000 €55 €136
€25.000 €43 €125
€26.000 €32 €114
€27.000 €21 €103
€28.000 €10 €91
€28.500 €4 €86
€29.000 €0 €80
€30.000 €0 €69
€31.000 €0 €58
€32.000 €0 €46
€33.000 €0 €35
€34.000 €0 €24
€35.000 €0 €13
€35.500 €0 €7
€36.000 €0 €0

 

Hopefully, this is simple enough to understand! Of course, to know for sure how much you’ll get, you’ll have to apply on the government website and they will inform you.

What types of health insurances are there in the Netherlands?

There are many different healthcare packages in the Netherlands, one of these being the basic package that we mentioned earlier (which is the cheapest). You then can have optional ‘add-ons’ to your healthcare packages in order to meet your needs (the ‘aanvullende verzekeringen’).

For example, if you are pregnant in the Netherlands, you would most likely want to opt into additional maternity care. If you’re after the complete opposite, you may want a package that means that you have access to all of the contraception you may need (and trust me, that package is gonna be so much cheaper than getting accidentally pregnant).

In summary, you have the choice of two different options: Basic healthcare (basisverzekering), which is compulsory, and additional insurance (aanvullende verzekering), which is optional. These all depend on your needs and vary in price depending on what you opt for.

Health Insurance in the Netherlands
You’ll probably want to opt in for maternity care if you’re pregnant

What are the main health insurance providers in the Netherlands?

There are many different health insurance providers in the Netherlands – around 60 to be precise. Here are just a few of the main providers to get you started:

  • Achmea Zorg
  • Agis Zorgverzekeringen
  • Anderzorg
  • Azivo Zorgverzekeraar
  • CZ
  • Menzis

…And there’s plenty more where that came from! A simple Google search should bring up most of the healthcare providers in the Netherlands (especially the main ones). But the best thing to do is to use a comparison site, that way you can fish around for the best deals and you can easily see what kind of cover you will need, all based on your circumstances.

 

How do I compare different Dutch health insurance packages?

It’s important to compare different Dutch health insurance, mainly because the price can vary quite considerably, even though they are offering the same thing. When comparing health insurance, it’s important to take lots of things into consideration, such as:

  • How much excess you want to pay
  • If you want any additional insurances (and do you need them?)
  • Do they cover a wide range of hospitals for emergency care
  • If they cover you for what you need (or may need)

Good healthcare insurance comparison sites will show you all you need to know about these insurances and what will be covered. But these sites can be hard to understand because it is all in Dutch and English comparison sites are really limited at the moment.

How do I apply for health insurance in the Netherlands?

Applying for health insurance is relatively easy. As we have already touched on – non-EU citizens need to take health insurance out within 4 months and EU 1 year (or if you’re working, then get it right away)! So if this applies to you, then here is what you have to do.

Firstly, you need to find an insurer that you want to go with, and you then need to apply on their website (or via the phone if that is easier for you). You will be asked for your Citizen Service Number (BSN) – you’d have got one of these when you registered to the country. You also need your proof of residency, official ID (passport) and sometimes you will need your employment contract. Then you’re all set! They will send your policy to you either through the mail or to your email – keep it safe. Some insurers also send out a card to keep in your wallet.

 

I’m a student, do I need health insurance in the Netherlands?

Yes you do, but some health insurers offer special student rates (to under 30’s), usually at around half of the price. This means that your health insurance as a student is affordable. However if you start working or have an internship (that earns you €150 or more), then you must switch to a regular insurance company, or you’ll be looking at a hefty €300 fine! And trust me, it does happen as one of our editors ended up receiving one when she didn’t realise she had to change after working as a student. So definitely bear that in mind!

Oh, and then you can spend your money on something more worthwhile, other than silly fines. 😉

Do you need health insurance in the Netherlands to go visit a doctor?

Yes, you always need health insurance in the Netherlands anyways – but the good news is that a visit to the doctor in the Netherlands  (‘huisarts’) won’t come out of your own-risk budget.

I have a child in the Netherlands, do I need to insure them?

Generally, no. They should be covered on your insurance up until they reach the age of 18 – so that’s one less thing to worry about. Once they reach the big wide and scary world of adulthood, they’re going to need their own insurance. This has become a bit of a grey area though…

Health insurance for expats in the Netherlands

Are there specific health insurances for expats? Well, all in all, health insurances are all the same, the only difference being that some insurances may be a little more expat-friendly when it comes to languages. As linked earlier, English comparison sites can help with that. Also, we live in the Netherlands, one of the best countries in the world for speaking English fluently, when it’s not their native language. So there are absolutely no worries there when it comes to communicating with your insurance company. Just use a comparison site in English and you’ll be good to go!

What’s an EHIC card and where can I get one?

An EHIC card is your knight in shining armour if you’re planning on going abroad. When I first moved to the Netherlands, I was only planning on staying for a few months, so I was able to use my (free!) EHIC card from my country to cover expenses during my stay in the Netherlands, until I began working. When you apply for your health insurance in the Netherlands, sometimes when you receive your membership card, you will have the EHIC card on the back, you can use this to travel to another country and claim healthcare. If this is not present, then you will have to apply for one on their website. It is usually free and it gets delivered to your door within the same week.

Does Dutch health insurance cover dental costs?

Normally it doesn’t – that’s a short answer we know – here you can read tons of stuff about dental insurance in the Netherlands.

Things to remember after you have your health insurance…

  • Register with your local GP as soon as you have your health insurance sorted – this makes things much faster if you have an issue later on. Just turn up to your local huisarts and ask if they are taking on any new patients.
  • If you are eligible for healthcare allowance, then submit your form now – that way you will get your money ASAP.
  • You can change your health insurance once per year – with the deadline being the 31st of December. It’s best to wait as late as possible, as prices change. 
  • Sometimes you can get healthcare through your company, so if you change jobs, you can switch (Note: counts as your once per year).

So, there you have it. All you need to know about health insurance in the Netherlands. See, it’s not that difficult once you know how is it! I remember not having a clue what I was doing, and all of the information seemed to be all over the place and not in one single place. Thank us at DutchReview for that. 😉 Before we get too big-headed, have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments if we have!

While you’re here, have you joined our DutchReview Facebook group yet? No? Well, why not! Hurry up and join us all – I promise you won’t regret it. 😉

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