Health care system

Everyone who lives or pays income tax in the Netherlands (even just temporarily), is legally obliged to take out health insurance.

Because the Dutch government is responsible for the accessibility, affordability and quality of the care, it has decided on a basic health insurance for everyone.
The basic health insurance covers the cost of:

  • Medical care: including care by General Practitioners, hospitals, medical specialists and obstetricians;
  • Hospital stay;
  • Dental care (until the age of 18);
  • Medicine;
  • Maternity care;
  • Patient transport (both ambulance and seated patient transport);
  • Paramedical care (restricted physiotherapy/remedial therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, dietary advice).

Health care insurers are obliged to offer this basic insurance and are not allowed to refuse anyone. The basic insurance costs around 100 euros per month, depending on the deductible (eigen risico) and insurance company. The exact premiums are determined annually by the care insurers.

You also have the option to take out additional insurance. Many Dutch employers arrange collective health care insurance for their employees, to offer them a discount. Neither employers nor employees are obliged to take out this collective health insurance. Utrecht University has arranged collective health care insurance with OHRA and Zilveren Kruis Achmea.

General practitioner

It's strongly recommended that you register with a General Practitioner (GP). The GP plays a major role in the Dutch health care system. In the case of illness, in the Netherlands, you first consult your GP. If he or she feels further medical research is required, you will be given a ‘referral letter’ for a medical specialist or hospital. GPs generally work at a practice or a health care centre, not in hospitals. You can call the practice to register and to make appointments for a consultation.

Outside the regular hours of your GP, there is an emergency doctor’s office (huisartsenpost). The emergency doctor's office is for emergencies for which you would normally, during office hours, ring your GP. This service is available on nights, weekends and all public holidays.


The Accident & Emergency department (usually at a hospital) is meant for serious situations requiring immediate specialist medical treatment. In the case of an emergency, call the national emergency number (112) or your GP's emergency number. Note that going to the A&E department in situations you would normally go to the GP for, will result in having you pay the costs from the deductible (eigen risico) of the health insurance.

In emergency situations, any medical organisation has to treat you, whether you are insured or not. Always bring your ID and (if possible) your insurance pass.


If you require medicine, your GP will provide you with a prescription which you can take to the pharmacy to collect them. In principle, most medicine is covered by your insurance. Some drugs (e.g. headache tablets) can also be bought without a prescription from the pharmacy, chemist or supermarket. These non-prescriptive drugs are not covered by your health insurance. At the chemist, you can also buy non-prescriptive household medicine.  

For more information go to Euraxess.

Health care insurance for non-Dutch citizens


Non-Dutch citizens that are staying in the Netherlands for a longer period of time and receive an income must take out health care insurance to the level of at least the basic package (be careful according to the law of the Netherlands a travel insurance or an insurance of your own country is not accepted). If you do not, you will be fined around €300 by the Dutch government. A ‘longer period of time’ is usually understood to mean at least one year. 

If your stay in the Netherlands is a temporary one ( temporary is usually understood to mean less than one year) you are not obliged to take out basic insurance.


If you are a guest and your stay in the Netherlands is a temporary one, shorter than one year, you are not obliged to take out basic insurance. If you are a guest residing in the Netherlands and receiving a salary abroad, you're not always obliged to take out basic insurance. This depends on the sustainability of your stay in the Netherlands. This sustainability will be reviewed by the SVB, this organisation will look at the social, economic and legal aspects of your stay. If your stay is longer than one year, usually this will be considered as sustainable.

For further information, please contact the SVB, the organisation that implements national insurance schemes in the Netherlands. The Social, economic and legal aspects of your stay will also be of importance to the Tax Authorities.