How does health insurance work in the Netherlands?

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    How does health insurance work?

    Health insurance is a safety net for citizens, to ensure that no-one is economically crippled by high medical costs. All citizens must have at least basic health insurance to give access to medical services. Dutch healthcare is highly rated but at the cost of expensive premiums.

    Dutch health insurance is meant for Dutch citizens, but some students must also have Dutch health insurance, depending on factors such as the length of your stay and whether you work in the Netherlands. If you are not sure if you need to take out Dutch health insurance, we have it explained for you in this article.

    Two forms of Dutch public healthcare:

    • Zvw (zorgverzekeringswet) calls for Dutch residents to take out basic Dutch health insurance. Insurance companies are required to accept you as their customer, even if you have pre-existing conditions. 
    • Wlz (Wet langdurige zorg) covers long term treatment of chronological ailments such as mental or physical illnesses. All Dutch citizens over the age of 18 must contribute a small amount of their income every month to provide for these treatments.

    Citizens can choose to add extra insurance packages to their basic insurance, meant to cover extra costs that are not included in the basic package. These packages include:

    • Compensation for physiotherapy sessions.
    • Compensation for dental care.
    • Compensation for medical assistance in foreign countries.
    • Compensation for alternative cures.
    • Compensation for glasses and lenses.

    These packages are not necessary, and you must keep in mind that for most people, the extra costs of the insurance is higher than the compensation you will receive. For example, dental costs as a result of an accident are seldom compensated for and your premium over the year for dental care will be more expensive than the costs of going to a semi-annual appointment.

    With some insurance companies, you can choose your hospital if you need medical assistance, with other companies the choice is to them. Keep in mind that choosing a hospital comes at a cost.

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    Health Insurance Coverage

    Basic health insurance coverage could change every year, as the government decides what is covered. For 2020 the following is covered:

    • General practitioner (huisarts) appointments.
    • Most medication (if prescribed by your GP).
    • Basic mental health services.
    • Hospital treatment
    • Treatment from medical specialists.
    • Physiotherapy and dental care (until 18 y/o)
    • Patient transport.
    • Psychological therapy.
    • Blood tests.

    Via the National GP Association website can you search for the general practitioner nearest to you and registered on their site. It is advised to contact this general practitioner via phone or email.

    For medical advice or treatment, and for more serious cases, you should first contact your general practitioner. They will send you to the hospital if needed, where you must bring your ID and health insurance card. 

    How costs are paid depends on the policy of your insurance company: you have the option to pay upfront and have the costs refunded by your insurance company, or your insurer can pay costs directly.

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    Dutch Health Insurance Law

    The health insurance law is meant to make working people pay an extra tax to their health insurance via the tax authority.