How to choose Dutch health insurance?

In the Netherlands, you can choose your health insurance yourself. Dutch Health insurances are part of the private sector, meaning that your monthly fee depends on which Dutch health insurance company and which additional modules you choose. Every insurer has to cover the basic needs, which are the same for every provider. However, the terms for special healthcare needs differ from insurer to insurer. Therefore, comparing a couple of Dutch health insurance before you sign up for one makes sense. The best way to do this is through a specialised website like ZorgkiezerIndepender or Zorgwijzer.

Tip: Create a list of your healthcare needs before comparing Dutch health insurance. Examples are Dentist coverage, glasses, specialists for allergies etc. This way, you know your needs and can see more quickly which provider suits you.

Health insurance provider with an English website

It can be extra complicated if you’re still lost in translation, as most Dutch health insurance companies don’t provide an English website. Therefore, we have compiled a list of health insurance companies that maintain an English website:

What to consider when taking out health insurance?

Health insurance is mandatory for everyone working or living in the Netherlands for more than four months. An EU health insurance card or private health insurance from your country of origin won’t be enough. An exception are international students who don’t work in the Netherlands.

There are three things you need to consider when taking out Dutch health insurance:

  • You must be registered in the Netherlands and possess a BSN to get Dutch health insurance.
  • You are obliged to take out Dutch health insurance within four months. EU, EEA or Swiss citizens need to take out health insurance within four months after their registration at the municipality. If you are in the Netherlands on a residence permit, you must take out insurance four months after the permit comes into force. 
  • Your Dutch health insurance policy must be effective from your registration date or from when your residence permit came into force. You’d eventually have to retroactively pay your health insurance’s monthly fee if you’re taking out health insurance later. However, the government usually does not track these cases, and you should be fine if the activation date is the date you’re taking out the insurance.

What happens if I do not take out health insurance (on time)?

Not taking out health insurance (on time) can inflict penalties. After four months without Dutch health insurance, you would receive a letter from the CAK (Centraal Administratie Kantoor). You will be asked to take out insurance within three months in the letter. If you don’t do so, you’ll get another extension of three months and a fine. After this period, you’ll receive another penalty, and the CAK will register you with an insurer on your behalf. The monthly fee for the insurance will be withheld from your salary.

Which healthcare services are covered by Dutch health insurance?

Even though different insurers offer different packages and prices, basic care coverage is the same for all insurance providers. What’s covered in the basic insurance is annually defined by the Dutch government. Basic insurance covers visits at the general practitioner – which are excluded from the mandatory excess (see below) – some medications, medical aids and mental health services.

However, if you have unique healthcare needs like physiotherapy, dental care or glasses, you can choose additional modules to cover the extra costs. The costs of the additional modules and what services they include differ widely from insurer to insurer. Websites like ZorgkiezerIndepender and Zorgwijzer allow you to compare different health insurance options.

Why is health insurance mandatory in the Netherlands?

Health is a very unpredictable good that can change quite quickly. To cover (unexpected) health costs, health insurance in the Netherlands is mandatory as health costs usually exceed the funds of an average earner. The Dutch government annually defines the primary healthcare needs that all insurance companies need to cover in their basic package and insurers are not allowed to refuse admittance to basic insurance

With compulsory health insurance, the Dutch government ensures everyone in the Netherlands has access to and is entitled to primary healthcare needs. People who cannot pay for basic insurance are entitled to healthcare allowance.

Read more about health insurance in the Netherlands on the website of the Dutch government.

How to pay for health insurance?

In the Netherlands, you register directly at a health insurance provider of your choice. This means that you get your invoice directly from your health insurance company. Usually, health insurance is paid monthly. If you have a little more to spare at once, you can also pay annually, sometimes you get a discount for this.

How high is the mandatory excess?

The compulsory excess (eigen risico) is the yearly contribution you participate yourself to your healthcare expenses. The Dutch government determines the minimum amount, which changes slightly every year. For 2023 the minimum excess is € 385, the same as in previous years. 

You might increase the mandatory excess by a maximum of € 500 to € 885 if you are healthy and don’t see a doctor frequently. A higher mandatory excess usually lowers your monthly fee, and you can save some money. However, if unexpected healthcare costs arise, you need to pay a higher amount yourself. Make sure you’ll have enough savings to cover these costs. 

Tip: Some insurers (FBTOZilveren Kruis) allow you to spread the payments of the mandatory excess. Meaning you pay around 40 Euros every month for your mandatory excess. If you have not used up the full amount, you will get the money back at the end of the year. Spreading the payment could be attractive to those likely to use up their mandatory excess as you don’t have to pay significant amounts at once.

How much do I have to pay for my medicines?

Your basic health insurance usually covers medicines prescribed by your doctor after the deduction of the mandatory access. However, some medications require a personal contribution, usually if a cheaper alternative exists. On you can check: 

  • whether your medication is included in the basic health insurance package;
  • which costs count for your mandatory excess;
  • what your contribution might be;  
  • whether there is a cheaper alternative that is fully reimbursed.

The own contribution to your medicines never exceeds a maximum of € 250 per year.

Do I have to pay when visiting a doctor or collecting my medicines?

If you have Dutch health insurance, you don’t need to settle the bill directly after visiting the doctor. The doctor’s office will invoice your insurance, which will consider your mandatory excess and if necessary, send you an invoice.

The same goes for your medicine. If your prescription is covered by your insurance, you don’t have to pay anything when collecting it. However, if your medication requires a personal contribution, you usually have to pay when ordering it at your pharmacy.

What if I can’t pay for health insurance?

If your income is low, you might be entitled to receive healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag). To receive healthcare allowance, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You are 18 or older;
  • You have Dutch health insurance;
  • Your income is below the (joint) income threshold of € 31.138 if you are single and € 39.979 if you apply together with your partner;
  • You have Dutch nationality or reside in the Netherlands legally;
  • Your (joint) assets are not too high.

Furthermore, you need a BSN and a DigiD to apply for healthcare allowance. You can apply for a benefit online via the Mijn toeslagen section on the Dutch tax authorities’ website. Be aware that the Mijn toeslagen section is only available in Dutch.

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