Understanding the Dutch Healthcare System

The Netherlands is known for having one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Since 2005, it has been ranked by the Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI) in the top 3 countries within the EU. The system is based on several key principles, such as accessibility for everyone, solidarity through insurance and high-quality services. Thus the BIG-register has been set in place.

If you are planning on living and working in the Netherlands it is important to note that it is mandatory, by Dutch law, to have at least a basic health insurance which covers care like the general practician, medicines and hospital care. In this article, we explain how the Dutch healthcare system works based on the four-health care-related acts.

How does it work?

Dutch healthcare is managed by the government and supplemented by private health insurance companies. These insurance companies are not-for-profit and must allocate any profits made to the reserves or return them to its consumers in the form of lower premiums.

At the heart of the foundation lies the mission to keep healthcare affordable and support should always be available for those who cannot provide for themselves. Hence, the Dutch health care system is divided into 4 basic health care-related acts:

  • the Health Insurance Act (Zorgverzekeringswet)
  • the Long-Term Care Act (Wet langdurige zorg)
  • the Social Support Act (Wet maatschappelijke ondersteuning)
  • the Youth Act (Jeugdwet)

Health Insurance Act

Every resident is required to get their own health insurance in addition to the government taxes. There is the free will to choose the insurer. Having said that, those with an annual income below € 31.138 are eligible to apply for a monthly healthcare allowance ranging from €2 to €83 euros, depending on income.

Health insurers are required to accept all individuals irrespective of their health condition, age or background. All insurers must guarantee that healthcare is available in the basic package for all their policy holders; however, they can change their coverage, products and costs on yearly basis. For this reason, December and January are known as the ‘insurance months’ as this is the time to change and/or modify insurance coverage for the following year and check if this still matches the resident’s health needs.

Long-Term Care Act

This act has been set in place to ensure the provision of care for those who require permanent or around the clock home care. This includes vulnerable groups such as the elderly, people with chronic illness and people with mental or psychiatric disorders. Clients who have received a special-needs assessment can receive care either at home or in a care home.

The Long-Term Care Act is based on solidarity and covered through a state-controlled mandatory insurance. This means that residents are automatically insured under the Dutch social insurance scheme and have the right to apply for support if they or a family member are in need.

Social Support Act

As part of social responsibility, it was decided that an act was needed to help people live at home independently for as long as possible and help people to participate in society for as long as possible. This act was enacted in 2015 so that the responsibility of providing support to people with disabilities could be transferred from the state to local authorities. Individual provisions are given but local authorities are also required to provide general help for people in need of support. The objective of these provisions is to ensure that everybody, irrespective of disabilities, can be active inclusive members of society. Hence, there are household support, community activities, sheltered homes for homeless people, support centers for domestic abuse victims available throughout the country.

Youth Act

The provision of assistance and care for young people and their families is protected under this act. Those up to the age of 18 (and in special cases up to 23) dealing with parenting and developmental issues, psychological problems and disorders can request support. Children who have severe disabilities are not covered by this act as they fall under the Long-Term Care Act.

The basis for this act is to increase preventive care and early intervention support for children to grow up in a safe environment with good health so that they can eventually become independent and productive members of society. Local authorities are responsible for implementing child protection measures and youth rehabilitation services.



Although the Dutch health care system is supplemented by private health insurance company, it is managed by the government that ensures that every resident possess a basic health insurance. This is possible through the different health-care related acts that focuses on the solidarity and the well-being of its residents among all ages and needs.

For more information about the health care system in the Netherlands, click here.

With a growing aging population and support from the long-term act a demand for healthcare workers exists. Are you a nurse [or assistant nurse] aspiring to live and work in the Netherlands?  Then we have good news, you too can play a part in growing the state of the healthcare system. EMTG provides professional guidance to those that decide to join our program. Contact your local recruiter for more information.