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Health insurance in the Netherlands

You are getting settled in the Netherlands after the big transition from your home country, and you have been at your new job for a month. You have set Sunday aside to relax, playing a bit of football with friends . . . and BAM! You sprain your ankle. What happens now? Is a trip to the doctor covered by your insurance?

Do we care in the Netherlands?

Different countries have different health care systems. And to make it extra challenging for globe- trotters, there is not a single health care system anywhere that doesn’t change over time.
Most people would notice radical changes in health care systems—President Trump planning to overthrow Obamacare; who hasn’t heard of that?—but incremental changes almost never get noticed.

A good example of that is the Dutch health care system, which has built-in procedures through which the health care packages are adjusted every year. The system itself, though, is one on which the Netherlands prides itself, so that is not likely to change.


Health insurance in the Netherlands


Health care in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the general belief is that health care should be accessible to everybody whether they are young or old, male or female, sick or healthy. As a result, the cost of health care is borne by everyone who lives here. And that explains why we have many subsystems in place to manage the overall cost of the system.

The most important choice we’ve made is that people don’t get to request services directly from a hospital (expensive) unless they are in acute danger; everybody is registered with a general practitioner of their choice (a huisarts). That’s your first point of contact, and your huisarts will help you decide what kind of care you need and will tell you where you can obtain it.

Another “instrument” used to manage the cost of health care is the annual deductible that people have to pay out of their own pocket when they need health care (€385 in 2017).

And there is the discussion about what kinds of health care need to be accessible to everyone. For instance, there is life-saving surgery, there is post-operative recovery, and there is the private clinic for recovery (sometimes high end).

The Dutch public generally agrees that the first of these needs be accessible to everyone, whereas the last of these needs should be paid at least partially out of your own pocket.

To make sure everybody gets what fits them best, part of the cost of health care is transferred from “government paid” to a mandatory health insurance system. And in that health insurance system, you get to choose what fits you best. If you want basic care only, you take out a policy for basic care only, but if you want the best possible health care, you take out a deluxe policy.

There is one group exempted from this system; namely, children up to the age of eighteen. Children up to the age of eighteen get general health care for free (hence, government paid).

Insurance for expats

Since the Dutch health care system is accessible to everyone who lives and/or works in the Netherlands, these rules apply to expatriates as well. As someone living and working in the Netherlands, you have to choose one of the mandatory insurance plans just like everybody else. But since you are probably not acquainted with the Dutch health care system, it is hard for you to know what kind of policy fits your needs best and what you need to do to buy the appropriate coverage. Comparing the plans offered by all the companies can be a headache, too, especially when most websites are only available in Dutch.

To give you a simple and attractive solution, Payingit International offers a collective health insurance at reduced rates for its employees, via HollandZorg (www.hollandzorg.nl). It is totally up to you whether you elect to take it through us, but we have negotiated an employer discount on basic and additional insurance policies for our employees.

Get in touch, and we’ll be glad to help you tackle this subject!

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Karin Otten Consultant International