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Everyone living in the Netherlands or paying wage taxes here is required by law to have health care insurance (see also the government website on health insurance). Children (18 and younger) receive basic coverage free of charge and do not need to have their own policy. They must be named on the policy of one of their parents and will receive the same coverage as their parents. You must have a BSN number and, if your nationality is from outside of the EU, a residence permit to apply. You can apply for temporary health insurance until you have a BSN and, if necessary, a residence permit.
Insurance coverage should be obtained within 4 months of living in the Netherlands. The coverage will be retroactive to the validity date on the residence card (non-EU citizens) or from the date of registration with their local municipality (EU citizens).
Many people are covered by their employer’s scheme. In this case, their HR manager advises them on the correct procedure. Those who need to take out their own health insurance must contact an insurance company.
Under certain specific conditions, people may be exempt from this requirement (see here). To test if you are exempt, please visit this page on the SVB website. If you are a foreign student or a posted worker, check here for more information.
Everyone can still choose his or her own insurance company. International insurance companies generally work with a Dutch insurance company to provide health coverage for international employees who have health insurance from their home countries. International employees are advised to check their coverage with their insurance companies to find out the details.
The basic insurance package (basispakket) includes general medical care, most prescription medicine, hospital stays, pregnancy care, medical equipment, and ambulance transportation. One can also choose to take out supplemental coverage (aanvullende verzekering) for additional costs, such as physiotherapy. The average cost per person per year for the basispakket is approximately 1200 euros.
Health insurance cover changes annually and health insurance can be changed only once a year – in December, prior to 1 January. You might want to do this if you think you need services that were not previously covered, for instance. The increased coverage usually amounts to increased costs, which should be considered beforehand, as you must then wait until the next year before other changes can be implemented.
In the Netherlands, there is a mandatory deductible (own-risk) system. Adults have to pay part of their medical costs for selected services up to an amount of €385 per year, per person (2018 value). There is also the possibility of choosing an additional personal liability of between 100 and 800 euros in addition per year to help reduce policy costs. In this case, the amount of the additional deductible is paid before the health insurance begins to cover the costs.
EU citizens who can provide an S1 portable document (formerly called E106) from their home country can get a treaty policy and will be insured up to the level of Dutch basic coverage. Those with a European Insurance Card (EHIC) will also have access to Dutch health care.
Insurers offer a choice of different basic policies to the insured: naturapolis (standard policy), restitutiepolis (refund policy), or a mixture between the two. In the case of a Naturapolis, the insurers arrange contracts with care providers and pay directly for the services provided. You can go to any caregiver that is listed with the insurance company. With a Restitutiepolis, you choose the caregiver, pay the bills directly, and apply for reimbursement from the insurer. The insurer decides how much to reimburse. It may be worthwhile to shop around for the right insurance for you and your family.
For more information, you can contact the Consumers Union (Consumentenbond). There are also several online services (ZorgWijzer, in English, and Independer, in Dutch) that can help compare different health insurers and policies.