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Health Insurance in the Netherlands - The Complete Guide

by College Life
Updated on July 18, 2023

Health insurance is one of the first things you should consider arranging when deciding to study abroad. Health insurance in the Netherlands can be costly and confusing to navigate. Luckily, College Life knows you'd rather spend your time doing other things.

Do You Need Insurance?

Legally, everyone in the Netherlands is required to have health insurance. However, this largely depends on your nationality and your working status. It can seem complicated at first, but no need to worry; we've simplified the entire process for you below. Thus, you can ensure that you are insured when you need to be and never overpay!

From the EU/EEA?

When the European Union was formed, many benefits could be shared across borders. In addition to capital, labour, and goods, among many other national services, health insurance is valid across borders. So if you already have a European insurance provider, you're covered in the Netherlands through your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Before arriving in the Netherlands, you can request an EHIC from your local government at no additional cost. This EHIC ensures that you are insured in all EEA countries and Switzerland. This coverage primarily takes the form of post-factum reimbursements; you'll probably have to send the invoices to your insurance agency.

Also, please note that this doesn't mean you don't need travel insurance. If you go on a trip to another European country where you'll be doing extreme sports or are at risk of theft, consider purchasing temporary travel insurance. The EHIC only applies to health insurance you would generally receive in your home country.

If you want to work in the Netherlands, even if you are European, you must purchase a Dutch health insurance plan. An EHIC is not sufficient to obtain a work contract.

Non-EU/EEA Citizens

If you do not already have European health insurance and are coming to study in the Netherlands, you must purchase Dutch health insurance. Everyone in the Netherlands is required to have health insurance. As a potential or current resident of the Netherlands, you must abide by this rule.

An insurance plan from your non-European home country is not valid. In addition, not having insurance here in the Netherlands would quickly become very costly for you if you ever had an accident or emergency.

  • You DO NOT need Dutch health insurance if: you have an EHIC and will NOT be working in the Netherlands. You will instead need international student insurance.
  • You DO need Dutch health insurance if: you have an EHIC and WILL be working in the Netherlands or DO NOT have European health insurance.

How It Works

Among many other positives, the Netherlands has a very liberal healthcare system that strongly believes in coverage and high-quality healthcare for everyone. The Health Insurance Act of 2006 was enacted under the belief that all residents in the Netherlands should have access to standard health insurance, with the opportunity to purchase additional insurance if they so desire.

This law guarantees that insurance companies work closely under government regulation to ensure affordable and fair premiums. This also means that almost all health insurance companies in the Netherlands have the consumers' interest in mind: most profits they earn are translated into lower insurance premiums for consumers.

Therefore, the Dutch health insurance market is very fair and transparent. The standard health insurance is the same for all healthcare companies, and the benefits are the same regardless of the service. You cannot be refused by an insurance company due to your age or a pre-existing condition.

International Student Insurance

If you plan to study in the Netherlands, don't have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and are not currently working part-time, you will need international student health insurance. College Life & Swisscare have partnered to provide you with comprehensive student health insurance Individuals between 18 to 49 years old can benefit from this essential medical insurance, which includes emergency treatments, hospital admission for inpatient treatments, outpatient treatments, search and rescue, repatriation, and 24/7 assistance. The certificate is available immediately for all international students and interns worldwide planning to study in the Netherlands.

Dutch Standard Healthcare

Healthcare here in the Netherlands is quite complex and exists in multiple forms. Most of the time, when you hear about Dutch healthcare, it refers to compulsory standard healthcare required for those planning to work in the Netherlands.

There are various health insurance policies in the Netherlands. The cheapest and most basic form of insurance is basic healthcare insurance (basisverzekering).

Standard health insurance costs around 100 euros per month and covers essential medical care such as:

  • Doctor's appointments (huisarts)
  • Stays at the hospital, surgery and emergency treatment (ziekenhuis)
  • Medical transportation such as ambulance services (ambulancevervoer)
  • Medicine prescriptions (medicijnen)
  • Mental health care
  • Dietary advice
  • Therapy: speech, dyslexia etc

Healthcare Policies

There are two types of policies:  restitution policy (restitutiepolis) and in-kind policy (natura polis).

With the restitution policy, you are given the freedom to choose your health provider and have to pay the bill yourself. You then have to send your invoice to your insurance company to get reimbursed. Depending on your contract, the reimbursement will be anywhere from 70–80% of what the company determines is the fairest price for that treatment. This policy is slightly more expensive due to its relative freedom.

With an in-kind policy, your insurer has a network of professionals they have signed agreements with. When you contact these providers, the insurance company pays your bills directly. However, if you ever choose to go to a provider not included in the contract, you'll have to pay for the treatment upfront and get reimbursed later. This reimbursement is optional and depends on the health insurer.

Additional Health Care

If you wish to get coverage for more extensive medical treatments, such as dental care or physical therapy, you can purchase extra insurance (aanvullendeverzekering). Additionally, you can set your own deductible (eigen risico). This deductible is an annual amount you should pay before your insurance covers any costs and is limited to a maximum of 385 euros per year. This excludes services such as appointments with your general practitioner and maternity care and is not required if you have no medical costs for the year. The monthly price of your health care depends on how much extra insurance you purchase and how high you set your deductible.

Main Providers

Though there are many health providers here in the Netherlands, here is a list of the largest ones:

  • ONVZ
  • Cigna
  • Besured
  • ZorgDirect
  • LoonZorg

International Travel Insurance

If you are not a citizen of the EU/EEA and are planning to visit European universities, you will need travel insurance. College Life Insurance provides low-cost health insurance and visa coverage that ranges from 1 to 365 days. This covers luggage, repatriation, search & rescue, trip cancellation, and 24/7 assistance along with emergency medical treatments in cases of illness and accidents while abroad. You can get your certificate immediately by applying for it online.

Health Insurance Allowance

One aspect of making health insurance affordable for all entails government stipends to help cover the monthly premiums. The Dutch government is committed to help individuals get economical health care, and it works in your favour to be able to apply for this stipend. So you should find out if you are eligible for this allowance and the application process for this stipend.

Getting health insurance here is a considerable investment which can be unaffordable for many. One of the best aspects of health insurance in the Netherlands is healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag). The government provides this monthly subsidy to compensate citizens for their healthcare expenditures. The government does this to ensure that all citizens can afford healthcare. Currently, the healthcare allowance is set at 104 euros per month. This, however, depends on your income level. This subsidy is paid to your Dutch bank account every month before the end of the month, several days before your health insurance premium is taken from your bank account. Please note that this is not automatically done when you sign up for health insurance. You must apply for healthcare allowance on the Dutch government website.

There are plenty of suppliers of health insurance in the Netherlands. Maybe even too many. So it can be hard to compare and decide which supplier to pick, especially because many of these websites are in Dutch. Choose a healthcare provider that serves your needs best.

We recognize that health insurance is difficult to find for international students. We hope this helps you find the best insurance at the best price in one place! Feeling overwhelmed and disoriented by this whole process? Don't worry! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.

2 comments on “Health Insurance in the Netherlands - The Complete Guide”

  1. Hi there, my daughter is going to be studying in Netherlands. She lives in South africa and has an Italian passport. I am totally at a lose as to what insurance she will need? I have read about a free insurance for EU CITIZENS, it is a card. But then I am not sure of this covers her from doctor visit etc. Must I apply for the cars as well as a private medical insurance in netherlands. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated

    1. Hi Jesamaine, your daughter, as an EU citizen with an Italian passport, might be eligible for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which provides basic healthcare coverage during her stay in the Netherlands. However, it's recommended to also consider private medical insurance for comprehensive coverage, as EHIC may not cover all expenses. Check with her university for any specific insurance requirements or options. Additionally, liability insurance is a good idea to have (covers damages to third parties or their property caused unintentionally).

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