The healthcare system in the Netherlands is insurance-based, meaning that anyone residing or working in the Netherlands is obliged to take out a standard health insurance from a health insurer of their choice. The coverage provided by the standard package is decided by the government and includes costs like basic medical care costs, hospital treatment or prescription medication.
You can obtain medically necessary treatment by presenting the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), when you are temporarily staying in the Netherlands. Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You may need such treatment in case of acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth or to a chronic illness. The need for treatment must emerge during the course of your stay. If your illness requires regular treatment while you are temporarily staying abroad, agree with the treatment provider beforehand on the arrangement of treatment. Treatments that need to be arranged in advance include, for example, dialysis, oxygen therapy, specialised care of asthma and chemotherapy as well as echocardiography in chronic autoimmune diseases.
You will receive treatment on the same terms and at the same price as the locals. It is advisable to carry copies of your European Health Insurance Card with you, along with the card itself. If you didn’t have your EHIC with you or it was not accepted, and you were required to pay all the costs of treatment yourself, you might be able to apply for reimbursement from Kela retrospectively.
The territory of the Dutch Antilles (Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten) does not belong to the European Union. The European Health Insurance Card can’t be used in these territories.
The contact information of places of treatment within the healthcare system and information about access to treatment are provided by the health insurer Zilveren Kruis. Healthcare providers are also listed in Dutch on Kiesbeter, Zorgkaart Nederland (Patiëntenfederatie Nederland) and Allesoverhetgebit (dentists).
In need of a doctor, find a general practitioner (huisarts). You can contact any general practitioner in the area. You can only see a specialist if you have a general practitioner´s referral.
Dental care costs are mainly reimbursed only for patients below the age of 18. Adults usually pay for their treatment themselves. Reimbursements can be obtained only for procedures carried out by oral surgeons. Information about reimbursement is available from the health insurer Zilveren Kruis.
For some medicines you will have to pay the full price, for others part of the price, and some medicines are available free of charge. The Dutch healthcare authority determines the level of reimbursement.
You can access hospital treatment through the emergency room or in less urgent cases if you have a doctor´s referral. Your doctor will obtain consent for treatment from the health insurance fund, and for this, a copy of your European Health Insurance Card will be needed. In this way, you will receive hospital care without charge.
In urgent cases, you can go directly to the emergency department of a public hospital (ziekenhuis). Show your European Health Insurance Card as soon as possible so that the hospital can contact the health insurance fund, enabling you to be treated free of charge.
In emergencies, patient transportation by ambulance is free of charge. For medical reasons, such as on the basis of certain illnesses, you can obtain reimbursement for a longer journey to medical care using the cheapest public transport, or by taxi if the doctor provides a certificate. Request the health insurance fund´s consent for reimbursement of travel costs in advance. If you need to use a taxi (not in emergency) for your journey to medical care, Dutch National Contact Point can help you with this.
Generally, you have access to public healthcare free of charge with your European health Insurance Card. If you have to pay the full price for treatment at a local public healthcare unit for which you would have been entitled to reimbursement with a European Health Insurance Card, you can apply for reimbursement retrospectively. You can also refer the healthcare provider to contact Zilveren Kruis if they don’t know what to do with the invoice. You can contact them at gbr(at)zilverenkruis.nl or by phone +31 33 445 68 70.
Read more about suddenly falling ill in Europe.
Read more about reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad.
If you wish planning to travel to the Netherlands for the purpose of using healthcare services, you can find general information on seeking treatment abroad on our site. You can ask for additional information regarding seeking care in the Netherlands from the Dutch National Contact Point.
The Dutch Healthcare Authority determines the maximum prices of treatment in the Netherlands. Prices at hospitals are not entirely regulated. It is therefore possible that the same treatment at two different hospitals can be invoiced at a different amount. You can enquire in advance about prices from places of treatment and hospitals. Maximum prices can be found on the Nederlandse Zorgautoriteit (NZa) website (in Dutch). If there’s no maximum price published on their website regarding a certain treatment, the hospitals who provide these certain treatments have to publish their maximum prices.
Quality and safety of treatment
In the event of treatment injuries, the legislation and patient insurance of the country providing the treatment is always applied. In case you are unhappy with the treatment you received, you should primarily try to sort the matter out with the treatment provider. The national contact point can help you with finding the right authority if you wish to make a complaint.
Information on quality of healthcare is gathered on the website of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.