The Dutch healthcare system explained

The Dutch healthcare system is divided into three compartments:

  1. Long-term care for chronic conditions.
  2. Basic and essential medical care, from GP visits to short-term hospital stays and specialist appointments or procedures.
  3. Supplementary care (e.g. dental care, physiotherapy, cosmetic surgery procedures).

Long-term care, including disability costs like wheelchairs, is covered by mandatory state insurance.

All regular (short-term) medical treatment is paid for by mandatory private health insurance. Supplementary care may be covered under health insurance, depending on the policy, or be paid for out of pocket.

Dutch health insurance

The first step in healthcare in the Netherlands is to purchase Dutch health insurance. It is mandatory for everyone to purchase at least a base level of health insurance and you must do so within four months of arrival. Even if you already have an existing policy that covers you in the Netherlands, you’ll need a Dutch base cover.

Dutch health insurance for international students

Not every international student needs to take out Dutch health insurance. It all depends on a variety of factors, such as the length of your stay and whether you are working parttime. Learn more about health insurance for foreign students.

Doctors & GPs

Doctors & General practitioners (GPs) are your first point of contact for most healthcare in the Netherlands, as they provide diagnostics, treatment, presciptions and referrals to all specialists and, if necessary, to a hospital. Registering with a local practice is one of the first things you will need to do after you have arrived in the Netherlands. At HelloDoc Health we provide a special service to help you find the best GP for you and in the meantime we can help you with the primary health, mental health, e-prescription and additional haealth services that we can provide in 10+ different languages.

Hospitals and clinics in the Netherlands

Hospitals in the Netherlands fall into four categories:

  1. Academic hospitals: for specialist care and research.
  2. Teaching/university hospitals: for training healthcare practitioners.
  3. General hospitals: for less specialised care.
  4. Focus clinics: for specialised diagnostics, surgery and care.

They all provide a high level of care, and they are moving to greater specialisation in different areas. 

Medicine & Pharmacies in the Netherlands

Prescription medicines are available from an apotheek or pharmacy, or an online pharmacy. In most cases you will need to register with your local pharmacy to fill prescriptions. However, at HelloDoc Health we can prescribe medication and have it delivered to your doorstep!

Dental care in the Netherlands

Dentistry is privatised in the Netherlands and not covered by basic insurance policies (except for children under 18 and specialist dental care, such as required surgery). Dentists (tandarts) in the Netherlands usually work in their own single-dentist practice and at present most of them still do so, although the trend is that practices are becoming larger with more than one dentist per practice.

Dental care costs

Other dental care can only be insured by taking out “extras” for your policy. Depending on your health insurance, this could cover up to 75 percent of the cost. Dentists list their prices on their website and insurance companies have comparable lists of how much they will cover for each service, allowing people to choose their own level of care and expenditure.

Dental specialist services

Dental surgeons are usually affiliated with a hospital or a private clinic, while orthodontists work in private practice. In order to visit one of these (or another type, such as a children’s dentist), you will need a referral from a regular dentist. In larger cities, there are also dental hygiene practices, which you don’t need a referral to visit.

More information or an appointment?

Would you like to discuss your health issue(s) with a doctor or therapist? Just book a consultation at HelloDoc Health! We are specialised in providing primary care, mental health and additional health services in 10+ languages across Europe.

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