Health insurance in The Netherlands: how does it work?

If you are planning to study, work or live in The Netherlands it is important to consider your health coverage as you are possibly required to apply for health insurance.

When is Dutch health insurance necessary?

A health insurance (in Dutch: zorgverzekering) in The Netherlands is mandatory as soon as you start working in Holland or when you emigrate to The Netherlands. Failing to apply for a health insurance within four months will likely result in a substantial fine, issued by the government.

However, applying for a Dutch health insurance is not allowed if you are only in The Netherlands temporally, for example, if you are in Holland for your studies and you don’t get a job on the side. In this case your home country insurance will suffice if you are from within the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or another country (like Australia) that has a social treaty with the Netherlands. If you are from outside the EU/EEA you may need to check whether your home country or travel insurance covers the necessary healthcare when abroad.

In any case, it is wise to check and verify this sort of information with your current insurance company prior to entering the Netherlands.

If you are unsure whether or not you are obliged to apply for Dutch health insurance, you can contact zorgverzekeringslijn.nl on +31 88 900 6960 for free and unbiased advice.

How to apply?

If you do need Dutch health insurance you can easily apply for one online. An insurance broker, like ZorgWijzer.nl (English site), can help you find a suitable and affordable insurance.

Although the application process is quite straightforward, it is mostly in Dutch. So using Google translate or a Dutch speaking friend/co-worker to help you, might be a good idea.

What does it cover?

The minimum cover that a Dutch insurance company has to offer already covers a substantial amount of medical expenses, such as:

  • Visiting a GP and treatments conducted by him/her
  • Emergency medical care in The Netherlands and abroad
  • Healthcare provided by (non-) physician specialists
  • Physiotherapy for certain chronic diseases
  • Treatments in a hospital or clinic
  • Medication
  • Midwifery
  • Psychological healthcare
  • Dental care (only up to 18 years of age)

How much does it cost?

Health insurance in The Netherlands is primarily funded by income tax. All other costs involve premiums (around 100 euros per month).

Furthermore, do note that using healthcare usually requires you to pay an excess which goes up to 385 euro a year. Once you have paid this amount, all further costs made by you will be reimbursed by the insurance company.

Residents with a limited income may apply for financial compensation (up to 88 euro per month) by the government. This can be done through the website of the Dutch tax authorities.

Need more information?

Do you need more information about a specific topic? Then it might be beneficial to visit or call ZorgWijzer for more information about health insurance in The Netherlands.

Need help with Immigration Law: Dutch Citizenship?

One of the most popular articles on this website has been the “Quest to gain a Dutch Passport: Kelly & Nathan’s story”.  

Unfortunately, I have lost touch with Kelly & Nathan, but if they are reading this, or you know them, please ask them to contact me, would be great to hear if they made any progress.

The comments have been very active over the last couple of years on this post, and you will see that attorney Jeremy Bierbach from Franssen Advocaten, has been supportive in answering questions.

Jeremy is originally from the USA but moved to the Netherlands in 2001 and has lived here since.  He has focussed on immigration and European migration law for some time now.

If you would like to see if Jeremy can help you in your quest for (regaining) Dutch citizenship, please contact him via Franssen Advocaten.

Franssen Advocaten also has information on their website in English about many aspects of immigration law for the Netherlands:

  • Family reunification
  • Working in employment
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Permanent residence
  • Dutch citizenship
  • Civic integration
  • Rights of EU citizens.

They can also assist with family law (divorce, children, maintenance).

You may also be interested in looking at their news section on their site, with recent articles including:

Moving internationally with children – my personal experiences

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Hi Renee, I’m so glad I discovered your blog and FB page! I am an Aussie who has a dutch partner (met in Indonesia while travelling 2 yrs ago) and we have recently moved here so Bas (my partner) can have a bit of Dutch time with friends family work etc. Most of our past has been spent either travelling or living in South Aus. I now have a 5yr visa with him as my sponsor. But we would ultimately like to move home to Australia in a year or two for a long period. Although we have discussed and I think will probably be similar to what you experience and not really permanently live in one country. But I am curious if you had written a bog in the past about how easy/hard it was to move internationally with children. We are wanting to have kids soon and I don’t want to have to wait just because some have said how difficult it is to move once you have a child. I read that you had one of your children for your first move. Is there anything i should know?? Did you or your husband already have work lined up before you left? Housing situation? And just how it generally went. I would love to hear about it if you have already done a blog on it, or perhaps an idea for a new one :p Looking forward to reading more! Cheers, Jacqui


I really love getting messages from the Dutch Australian community, whether that is via the Facebook page, email or comments on this blog.  Here’s one from yesterday, and as she suggests, I’m going to respond with a blog post so that others who are interested can also read through my response.  Thanks Jacqui!

There are a number of blog posts in the archives where I document a bit more about these questions, and in fact blogging about these experiences is one way I’ve found I can cope better with situations I have found confusing or difficult.  For me, writing about stuff, and then finding that others send messages who are in the same situation, helps somehow.  Find your way of tackling problems.  Maybe it’s blogging, maybe it’s talking, maybe it’s just thinking them through.  Perhaps it’s drawing.  Find your way that works.

To be perfectly honest about moving between countries – it’s HARD.  Whether you do it for love, for a job, or for other reasons, I’ve now spent enough of my life mixing with expats/internationals/lovepats – whatever you want to call us – to know that there is nobody that thinks it’s easy.  Even if it is easy temporarily, particularly in what they call the “honeymoon period” where you are caught up in the excitement of living in a new country – at some point, you’ll hit a wall.  Sorry!  I know I’m being rather blunt but will put that down to enough years of living in Dutch culture to learn to be brutally honest.

Actually, you ask about the two and I think moving to another country has a lot in common to parenting!  It’s one of those things that you simply cannot really appreciate the enormity of until you are smack bang in the middle of it.  There are incredibly tough times when you wonder what on earth you are doing and why you made the decision to move across the world/be a parent.  But then, thankfully, there are also these other amazing times, when you wouldn’t change it for anything and it’s the most rewarding thing you have ever done.   Usually the good times outweigh the bad.  When they don’t, you need to find help until they do.

Personally, perhaps I’m mixing up parenting and relocating in my head as we have mixed the two in reality!  Our first daughter was born in Delft, the Netherlands and when she was 5 months old, we moved to Australia.  Our second little Dutch Australian daughter was born in Brisbane, Australia, and then we moved back to the Netherlands when she was 3 years old (and our eldest was then 5 years old).  We’ve been here since – it’s been more than three years now.  The first time I moved here, I found it tough but manageable.  The second time we moved back really knocked me down, hard.  I’m not sure that was just because we had children though and in fact, because we had children, it forced me to identify what issues I was having and get out there and solve them as soon as possible.  It took me about a year to “get back on my feet”, another year to “settle in” and now, after the third year, I can genuinely say I’m doing ok.

That first and second year was really mostly figuring out the practical stuff you asked about.  We rented a house for the first year and chose an area near where my husband had lived before and which we knew was an area with a high percentage of internationals (The Hague).  We choose a school based mostly on their nice website!  I used Facebook groups such as Delft Mama and Amsterdam Mamas to ask lots of questions (and am now helping other newcomers there).  In the second year, we bought a house.  This will eventually get a blog post of its own, but even a year later I’m still not ready to write about it!  Not as it was a really bad experience, I just have mixed emotions.  Getting my drivers licence was actually rather traumatic, but that’s more a personal thing I think – and again, though it was tough, the sense of pride and confidence I have of actually having done it is priceless.

Neither of us had work lined up when we moved in either direction, though had done some research and made some connections via LinkedIn which made the process easier.  My husband had work quite quickly both times, but it took me a lot longer – mainly due to the fact I also had the responsibility of caring for the children.  Again, though tough, this drove me to start a business and I did write a blog post about moving my small business overseas with me!  I’ve always done a lot of volunteer work and networked, networked, networked – online and off.  It took me nearly 3 years, but I now have an amazing job that I love.

Finally, as you’ve said, Jacqui, some people have said how difficult it is to move once you have a child.  Yes, it is.  However it’s also difficult to be a parent even if you stay in one place all your life!  Again, to find a similarity between the two, with both parenting and relocating, you will always hear horror stories and stories of pure joy.  And everything in between.

In terms of how the children themselves have coped – I’d say quite well.  I noticed that it took a lot longer for my youngest to deal with the changes, which is probably as much about her personality as it was her age.  They are now 6 & 8 years old and I just realised my youngest has lived half her life in each country, and my eldest has lived more in the Netherlands than Australia.  Overall, they are happy, healthy, well adjusted kids.  They miss Australia but part of this could be due to my conscious effort to keep this as part of our lives.  Of course, one of the biggest challenges is missing family – they talk to my parents at least weekly on Skype and we try to visit annually.  In fact, just this week I was feeling a little down (maybe because of the end of summer!) and realising the kids are using more and more Dutch words and neither sound “Australian”.  However then my 8 year old came home with this beautiful drawing from school.  The Australian side is still strong!

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So where does that leave you with decision making?  You’ll hear “do what’s right for you” and as cliche as it sounds, I think that’s the best advice I can give.  In relationships where partners are from opposite sides of the planet, I think that from that second you decide to be together, you really are making a choice to merge your lives, countries and cultures.  On the down side, that can be incredibly challenging, and expensive if you move/travel between the two countries.  On the up side, it’s amazing – for both of you and any children that may come along.

You do need to find ways to cope with the tough times and again I’ll be blunt.  Divorce rates amongst international couples is disproportionately high.  Throw kids into the mix and you may have near-impossible challenges to solve at some point in your life.  Once you love someone though, not being together may also not be an option – and it CAN work.  Find tools and ways to cope, learn to compromise, respect each other’s needs and talk, talk, talk about stuff until you find a solution.

I hope that helps.  Good luck!  Always great to hear from you and any readers out there.  Browse this blog for more articles about the specifics, you can use the search bar and I’m working on making past posts more accessible via the categories section (on the home page).  You can sign up for the enewsletter to get a summary of posts that month. Guest contributions are most welcome too.

Good luck!  Succes!

Renee

Day 28: another trip to IKEA

Another visit to IKEA Delft today, where we are now regulars and supporting the wage of at least several staff members I think!  Bas’ two brothers came to help us install more of the light fittings and curtain rods, and put together the new couch.

Though his brother is super tall (over 2 metres), he still couldn’t quite reach the roof, so used a very Dutch solution – a beer crate!

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Here’s our new couch:

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Wow look at that, a man reading instructions!

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I took the kids out for another cycle.  We’ve had beautiful weather.

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I’m not truly Dutch – as despite what I wrote in yesterday’s post – I bought Isabella a helmet!  It seems that only very young children have helmets though as I couldn’t find one in Sophia’s size.

 

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We found another playground.  To be perfectly honest, though I’m keeping busy with so much settling in here, I’m still very homesick and probably will be for some time, especially when summer ends here.  What I’m trying to do is consciously find positive things about being here.  Two of them are the ease of public transport and what seems to be a quite kid-focussed society.  I  know both of these things have a lot to do with the specific area you choose to live.  We came from Kallangur, in the far northern outskirts of Brisbane in Australia, and there public-transport was pretty dismal.  Here is fantastic, there are so many options: tram, bus, train and all within relatively easy reach (for us the train is a little further but can be reached on a bike).  With the kids, there are lots of parks and I think this area – Ypenburg – as I mentioned in an earlier post has a high proportion of young families so it’s a nice area for the girls to live.

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Day 27: A day with other Dutch Australians

Today my Dutch Australian friend Kristen came to visit.  She lives about a half  hour drive away, is Australian and like me, has married a Dutch man and had two little Dutch Australian children!  We met here in The Netherlands back in 2003 via a ‘Aussies in Holland’ only forum and have stayed in touch since.   We’ve led quite parallel lives, where we both lived here first, then moved back to Australia, then moved back to The Netherlands again!

She’s been back here for a year already so it was good to get some tips from her about settling in (again) here, but particularly with children.  She told me about a programme for young children who need to improve their Dutch language – they go to peuterspeelzaal (which many dutch children go to) but with a subsidy.  Though Sophia is due to start school at the end of this month, I’ll look into this for Isabella.  (Note later – we discovered that in our local area, it was very restricted where she could go, and though it was much cheaper, we decided to stick with the “regular” peuterspeelzaal)

If you’re moving to a new country, I really highly recommend seeking out others who are from your original country and have done the same.  Though it’s a great idea to integrate with locals, spending time with someone from your own culture can really help.  They can empathise with the tough side of it and give practical tips from a similar perspective to yours.

Overall, the girls seem to be coping with the changes ok.  They love their new colourful quilt covers and are currently sharing a room, as we still need to put flooring down in the other bedroom!  I have noticed something that I’ve heard is very normal – our 3 year old was very nearly toilet trained before we left Australia but has reverted back to needing nappies.  Here they are sleeping in this morning on the 2nd night in our new house:

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Picnic lunch with 4 little Dutch Australians.  They spoke a cute mix of Dutch and English with each other.

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This neat playground and man-made beach is not far from our new house.  It seems they train the Dutch kids to work with water from a very young age…

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How did we get around today?  By bike of course!  I’m nervous without helmets but seems none of the kids wear them and my husband insists they don’t need them.  At least with the nice, wide bike paths away from the roads, it does seem a lot safer.

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Back at home I’m still working on laying the vinyl floors in the living room.

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Day 26: A tram trip to The Hague City Centre

Today we had an adventure – a tram trip into The Hague City Centre.  There is a great “International Desk” there at City Hall.  When I first lived in The Netherlands (from 2002-2007), I spent several years as a volunteer with ACCESS, a wonderful organisation that supports english-speakers in The Netherlands.  During my time with them, in 2005, I assisted in setting up a “Welcome to The Hague” programme, where I co-ordinated a half day workshop to help newcomers find their way around.  Today, I kind of relived that, and was pleased to see a familiar face – Martijn – at the desk still!  ACCESS now have volunteered stationed at the desk there in the amazing city hall building.  It looks like something out of a movie – and in fact was used in the filming of I think it was Oceans Thirteen.

Here’s the girls walking to the tram in the raincoats that Nonna (my mum) bought them in Australia, knowing we were likely to have some use for them here in The Netherlands!  Sophia also has her tulip skirt on.  Pleased to discover it’s not that far to walk to tram stop in Ypenburg, where you can catch tram 15 to The Hague city centre or Tram 19 to Delft city centre.

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The Hague City Hall.

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Checking out the view from up high in The Hague City Hall.

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Outside the International Desk at The Hague City Hall, set up to assist expats who have relocated here with one of the big multinationals such as Shell, the ICTY, ICC, EPO.

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Girls having a snack at the International desk while I collected lots of information.

 

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A great international perspective of the Dutch healthcare system in the Xpat Journal!

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Beautiful artwork of The Hague in The Hague International Office.  Obviously done in summer – or perhaps painted in winter by an Australian like me missing the sunshine and trying to make it more prominent here!

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The wonderful English-language information pack I collected:

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Afterwards, we went next door to The Hague Central Library.  I’d highly recommend visiting the library in any new city, so much information.  Not to mention free wi-fi!  Unlike Australia, you do need to pay for annual membership, which I may do once we settle in.  Meanwhile, we just spent an hour or so there checking out the Dutch kids section.  Jip and Janneke was a must!

 

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Once back home, we enjoyed dinner in our back yard! Bas is happy to get a whole crate of his favourite beer – Amstel – for less than 10 euros.  You do need to pay “statiegeld” on the bottles, so its’ a few euros extra, but you get this back when you return the empty bottles and crate to the store.  Check out our box of Dutch groceries.

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Finally, we set up our dining table inside…can you believe this table and chairs was what Bas actually dined at when he was a child!  Flowers are also very cheap here so I treated myself to some roses.  Placemats from IKEA!

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