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Expat Exchange - Enrolling in the Public Healthcare System in The Netherlands
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Enrolling in the Public Healthcare System in The Netherlands

By Joshua Wood, LPC

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: A primer on how to enroll in the public healthcare system in The Netherlands.

Healthcare in The Netherlands - Enrolling in the Public Healthcare System in The Netherlands

If you're planning to enroll in the public healthcare system in The Netherlands, this article covers the requirements for foreigners to be able enroll in the public healthcare system, the steps involved and more.

The Netherlands is known for its high-quality healthcare system, which is ranked as one of the best in Europe. The public healthcare system, known as Zorgverzekeringswet (Zvw), is mandatory for all residents, including foreigners who are living and working in the country. The system is funded through income tax contributions and individual premiums, making it accessible to everyone. Most people in the Netherlands use this system, and it covers a wide range of healthcare services, including GP visits, hospital care, and certain medications.

Eligibility for Foreigners

Foreigners are eligible to enroll in the Dutch public healthcare system if they are living and working in the Netherlands. This includes expats, students, and retirees. However, tourists and short-term visitors are not eligible and should ensure they have travel insurance that covers healthcare. If you are a foreigner and you have a job in the Netherlands, you are required to take out Dutch health insurance, even if you are already insured back home (this also applies to foreign students who have a part-time job). Other foreign students and people who come to the Netherlands to look for a job are not required to take out Dutch health insurance.

Steps to Enroll in the Dutch Public Healthcare System

  1. Obtain a Citizen Service Number (BSN): This is a unique personal ID number that is required for various administrative procedures in the Netherlands, including enrolling in the healthcare system. You can obtain a BSN by registering with your local municipality.
  2. Choose a Health Insurance Provider: There are many health insurance providers in the Netherlands, and you are free to choose the one that best suits your needs. Compare the coverage and premiums of different providers before making a decision.
  3. Apply for Health Insurance: Once you have chosen a provider, you can apply for health insurance. This can usually be done online, by phone, or in person. You will need to provide your BSN and proof of residence.
  4. Pay Your Premium: After your application is approved, you will need to start paying your monthly premium. The amount will depend on the provider and the coverage you have chosen.

It's important to note that while the public healthcare system in the Netherlands is comprehensive, it may not cover all healthcare services. For example, dental care for adults and physiotherapy are not usually covered. Therefore, many people choose to take out additional private health insurance to cover these costs.

Also, keep in mind that if you do not take out health insurance within four months of your mandatory insurance obligation commencing, and the government becomes aware of this, you will receive a letter from the CAK asking you to take out health insurance within three months. If you do not take action, you will receive a fine. If you still haven’t taken action, you will receive a second fine. If you still haven’t taken out health insurance after that, the CAK will take out a public healthcare insurance policy for you and you will have to pay the premium for it for 12 months.

Overall, the Dutch public healthcare system provides high-quality care and is accessible to all residents. By understanding the enrollment process and your obligations, you can ensure that you have access to the healthcare services you need while living in the Netherlands.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

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