Health insurance in Holland: How Does It Work? 

The Netherlands has a universal healthcare system. It is managed by the government and supplemented by private insurance companies. Everyone that lives, studies and works in the Netherlands is legally required to take out standard health insurance. This is to cover the costs of general practitioner visits, hospital care and prescription medication. In this blog we are going to explain how health insurance in Holland works. Find out what you need to know in order to pick the most suitable coverage for your needs.


Getting started

If you decide to live in the Netherlands for an extended period, you need to take out health coverage as quickly as possible. The timeframe of doing so is within 4 months after arrival. If you do not take out insurance, it means that you will not be reimbursed for any care that you receive. The start date of your insurance will always be the day you registered as a resident in the Netherlands. This means that if you register at the townhall first and take out insurance later, you will be billed retroactively. If you are registered at a municipality (this is compulsory for living in Holland) but do not have health coverage, you will be notified by CAK. CAK is the central office for exceptional medical insurance and checks that everyone is insured. If you wait too long to take out health insurance, you may get fined.

Basic coverage

Basic insurance is compulsory for everyone. Do you have health insurance in another country but work in the Netherlands? Then it is also compulsory for you. Depending on your health care needs. Children under 18 are insured through their parents. The basic one covers a range of medical care, medicine and hospital stays. The coverage of basic healthcare has been determined by the government. The basic one covers:

  • Hospital admission
  • General practitioner visits
  • Medication (limited)
  • Medical aids (limited)
  • Psychological treatment
  • Maternity care (limited)
  • Treatment of speech pathologies
  • Emergency treatments abroad (Dutch rates)
  • Physiotherapy (only for people with chronic conditions)
  • Occupational therapy
  • Ambulance services
  • Treatments & operations by medical specialists
  • Operations by medical specialists

For any additional medical needs, you must take out supplementary insurance policies. Examples of benefits that cost extra are:

  • Prescription glasses and lenses
  • Dental care (Children under 18 years are covered through the basic insurance)
  • Orthodontics
  • Vaccinations
  • Physiotherapy
  • Medical care abroad for treatment costs above Dutch rates
  • Birth control


Own Risk (Eigen risico)

If you take out the basic insurance, you pay part of the healthcare costs yourself. We call this compulsory deductible (own risk). In 2021 the compulsory deductible is € 385. This only applies if you are 18 years or older. You pay the own risk in addition to your premium. With the own risk, the premium can remain lower.


To apply for health insurance, you need a citizen service number (‘burgerservicenummer’). You can obtain your BSN by registering at your local town hall. You will need your Passport, rental contract and employment contract to be able to register. If you come to the Netherlands with your family then you also need to provide documents for them.


Where Can I Take Out Health Insurance?

There are various health insurance companies where you can take out an coverage policy. Different companies offer different basic coverage policies. Differences lie with which companies the healthcare insurer has a partnership with. Your health insurance policy states exactly what your coverage reimburses and under what conditions and circumstances. If you would like to know whether you will be reimbursed for certain care, it is best to contact your health insurer.

On websites such as Zorgwijzer, Independer and Zorgverzekering.org you can compare different kinds of insurance plans of different companies and find the most suitable one that pertains to your situation.

Accessible, high-quality care for everyone

The Dutch healthcare system guarantees good and accessible healthcare for everyone. Health insurance companies must accept everyone that wants to take on an insurance package. They cannot discriminate by age or health. Everyone contributes to health insurance in the form of taxes.

Competition between insurance companies should lead to good and affordable care. With an affordable premium for policyholders. Insurers negotiate with healthcare providers (hospitals, opticians, physiotherapists etc.) about the price of care provided. Such partnerships make healthcare more affordable.

Are you a nurse that wants to move to the Netherlands to kickstart a new phase of your career?

At EMTG we understand that it can be overwhelming to move to a new country. The EMTG program includes an intensive Dutch language course and a fixed job contract. We place you at a suitable Dutch health care organization. Pick up from the airport, housing, support on the job, and guidance towards obtaining the Dutch nurse registration (BIG register) are also part of the EMTG program. We will even provide a job mentor to help you settle in (Including setting up health insurance plans). For more information you can contact your local recruiter.