The Netherlands' healthcare system is high quality and comparable to that of other western European countries. If you're an newcomer to the Netherlands, it's important to understand the types of hospitals, the best hospitals in your city or town, the health insurance requirement for non-residents, that you need to find a general practitioner, or huisarts, for referrals to specialists, the availability of prescription medications and more. Plus, if you're planning to have a baby, we offer insight from expats who have had a baby in the Netherlands.
Quality of Medical Care in the Netherlands
Dutch medical care is of high quality and is comparable to the medical care throughout Western Europe. Diagnostic laboratories and specialists in all fields of medicine are available. Hospitals are well-equipped. Maternity hospitals and other clinics are available. Most doctors and dentists speak English.
In case of Emergency
Dial 112 for emergency medical assistance. If your situation warrants it you should seek assistance from a hospital. They are staffed and equipped to deal with emergencies. Emergency services (including transportation by ambulance) are not free and you will be billed for any services rendered to you.
Hospitals in the Netherlands
You Cannot Buy Dutch Health Insurance if You Don't Have a Residence Permit
When you move to the Netherlands, you are not allowed to purchase Dutch health insurance before you have a residence permit. Once you get your residence permit, you must purchase Dutch health insurance. It is important that you have insurance before you become a resident. You may get a quote from our health insurance partner that provides expat health insurance in the Netherlands.
Non-Residents are Not Covered Automatically by Dutch National Health Services
The US Embassy in the Netherlands says, "medical services aren't provided free of charge, as the Dutch National Health Service does not cover visitors to the Netherlands. It is therefore recommended to obtain an estimate of the cost involved before receiving services." This not only applies to travelers, but to people who are not residents or have recently become residents and have not yet purchased mandatory health insurance.
Registering with a General Practitioner (huisarts)
You must register with a general practitioner in order to obtain non-emergency treatment from a specialist. Your health insurance company can help you find a general practitioner or you may want to ask other expats in your area if they have an English-speaking general practitioner whom they would recommend.
Prescription Medications in the Netherlands
Pharmacies ("Apotheek") are widely available and can assist with emergency prescription needs. Some common medications are not available in the Netherlands without a prescription, and some prescription drugs cannot be imported into the country.
Bringing Prescription Medications with You When you Arrive in the Netherlands
The US State Department advises that newcomers, "If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of the Netherlands to ensure the medication is legal in the Netherlands. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor's prescription. Carry an adequate supply of prescription drugs in their original container in your carry-on luggage. Please carry a letter from your pharmacist or medical doctor with you, as some drugs are subject to confiscation by local customs agents. If you are traveling with any pre-existing medical condition, bring a letter from your physician that describes your medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of any prescribed drugs."
Having a Baby in the Netherlands
Several of our members have shared their experiences giving birth in the Netherlands. "Overall, I had a great birth experience. The medical staff was very friendly, understanding, and helpful. They also spoke an adequate amount of English, which was great," said one mom. "I didn't really chose one. The local hospital is Antonious and has an amazing natal unit. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I began seeing a midwife at the hospital. It was not always the same one but they were all amazing and supportive and all spoke excellent English. I had a choice to have my baby at home or the hospital, I chose the hospital. During my labour I had a great midwife but then as things got complicated I was immediatley put into the care of a gynecologist. My care was excellent from all the medical professionals," recalled one expat.
Read more of their stores in our article,
6 Tips for Expats Having a Baby in The Netherlands.
Expat Health Insurance in Netherlands
Expats interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get quotes our partner, International Citizens Insurance, a trusted expat health insurance broker. They will provide you with comparison quotes from some of the biggest expat health insurers: Cigna, Aetna and GeoBlue.