The Netherlands has a high standard of medical care, but the procedures and arrangements might be different from your home country.
In the Netherlands a general practitioner (GP) or family doctor is called a 'huisarts'. GPs can be visited during consulting hours, after making an appointment. Both Hanze UAS and the University of Groningen have their own doctor’s practice at the Zernike complex. More information about registration and opening hours can be found at studentarts.nl. Of course you’re not obliged to sign up at the Zernike doctor’s practice, you can also look up a doctor in your own neighbourhood.
Medicine & specialists
Medicine can be bought at all pharmacies, but keep in mind that you need a prescription from the doctor for most of the medicines. Dutch doctors however do not always automatically prescribe medicine. Reclaiming the paid money for prescribed medicine is done through your own health insurance. Should you need to see a specialist, you always need a referral note from your doctor first. Only in case of emergencies, you can visit the hospital directly or you can dial 112.
Dutch health insurance is not mandatory for EU students to have if you have an insurance from your own country. You have an insurance from your own country if you have an European Health Insurance Card that is not expired. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) expires every year and it must be renewed annually. The European Health Insurance Card will help you to get an emergency assistance in case of emergency (urgent operation or pain). It is mandatory for non-EU students to apply for a Dutch health insurance if they do not have an insurance from their own country that covers them in the Netherlands.
Dutch Basic Health insurance is mandatory to have if you work or do an internship in the Netherlands; you are over 30 years old and your stay in the Netherlands is not temporary; and you are doing PhD program. The insurance that is used for working is called basic health insurance. There are many Dutch Insurance companies (example: Menzis, Anderzorg) but always look at what the package offers of those insurance companies because they differ from each other. For example, if you know you have a constant health problem, it is possible to choose an insurance that covers the problem more than the rest of the insurances. The basic health insurance does not cover dental health care however, it can be added to the basic insurance. Some health insurance companies cover also psychologist visits. Most of the Dutch Health Insurances do not include liability insurance, household contents insurance, and luggage insurance. However, private companies as Aon or IPS are covering liability, household and luggage insurance.
For all insurances you can apply online. As well, most of the insurances have a Facebook maintenance that can reply instantly to your messages within hours, comparing to an email that takes on an average 4-5 days to be answered.
There are 2 price types of Dutch basic health insurance card that is made depending on the risk system. The risk system is that if you pay a lower amount per month (ex. 78 euro) the insurance company will cover your hospital stay if the amount of the money exceeds 885 euro. However, if you the higher amount (ex.102 euro) per month, the insurance company will cover your expenditures if it exceeds 385 euro. Therefore, the risk gap is covered by you depending on the amount of the money you pay per month. If you wonder how much the medical procedures cost here, have in mind that calling an ambulance to your house might cost approximately 600 euro.
The benefits to have a Dutch Health Insurance
With the Dutch basic health insurance, you will receive also the right to obtain an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Moreover, it will be easier for you to find a GP (general practitioner) and a dentist close by your house. By having a GP and dentists, you will be also assigned a pharmacy store that you can go to and it is close to your house.
What will happen if you work and you don’t have a health insurance?
If you do not take out basic Dutch health insurance within four months, and the government becomes aware that you are not covered, then you will receive a letter from Zorginstituut Nederland asking to you to sign up for health insurance within three months. If you do not get health insurance within that period, then the Zorginstituut will issue you with a fine (approximately 366 euros in 2016). If you still haven’t acted after six months, then you will receive a second fine for the same amount. If you still haven’t obtained health insurance within nine months of the first letter, then the Zorginstituut will register you with an insurer on your behalf and they will deduct the monthly premium from your salary.
Refunds of medical costs through EHIC
Sometimes, you do have to pay for medical treatment. In that case, you are eligible for reimbursement. You do not have to send the invoices to your own insurance company in your home country. Send the invoices for medical treatment in the Netherlands to Zilveren Kruis (a Dutch health insurance company) with a copy of your EHIC, as well as your address and bank account number, to receive a refund of the costs. EHIC reimburses only medical costs. Follow-up treatment and rehabilitation are excluded from coverage.
(Adres: Zilveren Kruis; Groep Buitenlands Recht; Postbus 650; 7300 AR APELDOORN)
Hints and Tips
Dutch insurance companies are obliged by law to offer you the basic package. They can not deny coverage because of gender, age or health profile. You may only change your health insurance provider once per year, for the following year. The deadline to change is December 31. Moreover, the prices of health insurance in December and January are lower. If you are on a low income you may be eligible to have your monthly health insurance premiums (partly) covered by the healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag). Zorgtoeslag is a relieve for students because if you pay 102 euro per month, you will receive on average 80 euro back from the government. The whole process is made through Belastingdienst (tax department). Many businesses, including international companies, arrange collective agreements with insurance companies and offer a small discount to their employees. Having an European Health Insurance Card is recommended to have in any travel.