ACCESS NL > Healthcare in the Netherlands > Dutch healthcare system > Medical specialists > What can I do when I am dissatisfied with the medical specialist?
Healthcare in the Netherlands
Who administers the social security schemes in the Netherlands?
The Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringsbank, SVB) is the organisation that administers the national insurance schemes in the Netherlands. Information on social security can be found on the organisation’s website ‘svb.nl’. Information pages are provided in several languages.
Who is covered by the Dutch social insurance system?
If you are going to live or work in the Netherlands you are in principle covered under the Dutch social security system. However, there may be exceptions. You can read more about the rules that apply to you on the official European Commission website.
As a rule, you only pay social security contributions in the country where you actually work (as an employee or self-employed). There are some cases when you can be working in the Netherlands but be paying your social security contribution in another country, such as:
- you work outside the Netherlands and do not have a Dutch secondment certificate
- you work as a civil servant for another country’s embassy or consulate, or for an international organization such as NATO, the European Union or Europol. Your family members will only be insured if they work in the Netherlands
- you work for the government of another country or for the Antillean or Aruban government. In that case, your family members will not be covered under Dutch national insurance either
- you work in international transport for a non-Dutch employer, transporting persons or goods mainly outside the Netherlands
- you are a musician, performing artist or sportsperson working in the Netherlands for a short period of time
- you are studying in the Netherlands temporarily and are not employed
Find out whether you are covered by social insurance in the Netherlands on the SVB:
What social security benefits are available in the Netherlands?
Social security benefits are determined based on your income and assets. These include everything you own including your bank savings (i.e. car, jewellery, properties). Please note that no claims can be made within the first three months of moving to the Netherlands. Below is a summary of the five insurance benefits and allowances provided by the Dutch Government through the Social Security Office – SVB (Sociale Verzekeringbank):
- Kindersbijslag (child benefit) – This is money paid by the government towards the expenses of raising a child. If you live or work in the Netherlands and you have a child or children under 18, you are eligible for the Dutch child benefit. It is available to all families independent of income or wealth. Click here for more information
- Algemene Ouderdomswet – AOW (state pension) – The AOW is a basic state pension for people who have reached their AOW pension age. If you live or work in the Netherlands, you will almost certainly be insured under the AOW scheme. Click here to know about the pension age in the Netherlands and eligibility
- Nabestaandenuitkering ANW (survivor benefit) – This benefit provides financial support from the government for people whose partner has died and has children younger than 19 and for children who are orphaned
- TOG allowance – This allowance is for children who are disabled or seriously ill and thus who often need more care than healthy children. If your child lives at home with you, you may qualify for this allowance
- Wet langdurige zorg WLZ (long term nursing) – Whilst it is compulsory for everyone who is living in the Netherlands to take out a basic health insurance, everyone who lives or works in the Netherlands is automatically insured under the Act for long-time care (WLZ). This Act provides reimbursement for care that is not covered by the regular health insurance.
Visit the Social Security Office (SVB) website for the complete list of available national insurance schemes and last updates.
If I claim social security benefits, will it affect my residence permits?
EU/EEA citizens generally have the same rights as Dutch nationals when it comes to social security benefits. However, receiving social security benefits can sometimes result in the withdrawal of your right to reside in the Netherlands. This is determined on case-by-case basis and could only happen if you have resided in the Netherlands shorter than five years.
Non-EU nationals in possession of a regular residency permit have also the same rights towards social security benefits. However, in some cases your Dutch residence permit may include a condition that you do not qualify to apply to any public funds.
How can I find an English-speaking huisarts?
The majority of huisartsen (GPs) in the Netherlands are Dutch but many have a good command of English. However, in areas with a large number of expatriate residents there are health care centres specialised in providing a specific service for expats.
As soon as you have your health insurance, it is important to register right away with a huisarts (GP). You can find a doctor or medical centre in your area at: www.zorgkaartnederland.nl/zorginstelling (in Dutch only) or at www.kiesuwhuisarts.nl/(Dutch only) . You can also contact the ACCESS Helpdesk on +31 (0)85 4000 338, 10:00-16:00, Monday to Friday, or send an email via this form.
How can I find a doctor that speaks my language (no English-speaking)?
All doctors during a patient consult have a choice to contact the ‘tolkentelefoon ‘(interpreters phone). This organisation Global Talk has many interpreters and translators able to translate over 200 languages. Besides translating documents, the translators can assists doctors/specialists during their doctor/patient consultation. Please note that you will be charged for this service. You can find more information at: https://www.globaltalk.eu/
Alternatively, you can ask a Dutch-speaking friend to accompany you to the doctor’s appointment.
How can I contact my huisarts (GP) outside normal opening hours?
Healthcare in the Netherlands is accessible 24/7.
If you call your huisarts (GP) outside normal opening hours (usually after 5 p.m., before 8 a.m. and during the weekend), a recorded telephone message will usually provide contact details for an on-duty huisarts or the number of the doktersdienst (medical advice service). Often these messages are recorded in Dutch, so it is helpful to have a Dutch speaker available to listen to the message.
I am dissatisfied with my huisarts. Can I change to another huisarts?
If your huisarts (GP) is working in a group practice and you prefer one of the other GPs in the practice, you can schedule your appointments during his/her office hours.
If you want to change to a new GP, it is suggested to check if he/she is willing to accept you as a patient. Some GPs don’t accept new patients because their practice is full. Acceptance also depends on the distance between the practice and your home address in order to provide house visits when necessarily. Once you are sure that you can go to the GP of your choice, ask your former GP to send your medical file to the new GP.
I want to see a medical specialist. How can I arrange that?
The first thing you need to do is ask for a referral from your huisarts (GP). A referral is necessary to be able to visit a medical specialist. Once you have a referral, you can make an appointment. Depending on the specialisation and the facilities of the hospital, there may be waiting time from a few weeks to a few months. Health insurance companies may offer mediation to access treatment as soon as possible.
An alternative to seeing a medical specialist in a hospital is visiting one in an independent clinic. Here ambulatory and acute care are provided, but without major surgical or pre- and post-operative care facilities.
On your first visit to the medical specialist, you may be required to complete a questionnaire about your medical history and various lifestyle factors. If this is the case, the information will be registered in the hospital’s patient database.
I want to go to a medical specialist but my GP does not want to give me a referral. Can I visit a medical specialist without a referral?
If you want to visit a medical specialist without a referral, your health insurance may not cover this and you may have to pay for the costs yourself. You should check with your health insurance company what the coverage is.
Please keep in mind that the GP acts as a gatekeeper to wider Dutch healthcare and received 3 years of specialist training after 6 years of basic medical education. The huisarts treats less complicated problems and can determine which specialist(s) to consult if necessary. The GP can also answer most of your general health questions. He/she will also perform, for example, standard gynaecological or paediatric examinations and minor surgeries.
There is also a chance that you will not be able to make an appointment, even if you are willing to pay for the costs yourself. This is because some practices refuse doing it due to the complex administration involved.
How can I contact my dentist outside normal opening hours?
If you call your usual tandarts (dentist) outside normal opening hours, a recorded telephone message will usually provide contact details for an on-duty dentist. Often these messages are recorded in Dutch, so it is helpful to have a Dutch speaker available to listen to the message.
What kind of accommodation and facilities can I expect when I need hospitalisation?
Most hospital accommodation is in shared rooms or wards of up to six patients. Wards may be mixed gender. Single-occupancy rooms are available in some hospitals, but they are mainly available for patients who need this for medical reasons. You can expect the following:
- A private television is often available but you will be charged for its use
- You will need to bring your own nightwear, toiletries and other personal items. We suggest to leave valuable items such as bank cards and jewellery at home
- All food, medication, bedding and towels will be provided by the hospital
Is hospitalisation covered by my insurance?
If you need hospitalisation, the costs are covered by your basic insurance. If you have a natura (in kind) policy, you will only be covered if you go to a hospital that is contracted by your insurance. It is advised to contact your insurance company to find out which hospitals are contracted. In case of emergencies, the costs are covered regardless of the kind of insurance (in kind or restitution).
In all cases, you have to pay your eigen risico (deductible) first.
Can I go to the accident and emergency department in a hospital without referral?
Yes, it is possible to visit the eerste hulp afdeling (accident and emergency department) in a hospital without a referral. If the situation allows, it is best to contact your huisarts (GP) or your local out-of-hours huisartsenpost (GP centres that open outside office hours) phone line first. Many problems can be treated by a GP without the need to visit the accident and emergency department in a hospital.
What should I do in case of emergency?
For life-threatening situations, you can call 112. This number works for emergencies throughout continental Europe (Great Britain has a different emergency number).
How can I call an ambulance?
In the Netherlands, you cannot call an ambulance yourself. Only your huisarts (GP) or the emergency services can call an ambulance.
In my home country, my doctor prescribed me some medicine. How can I get this medicine in the Netherlands?
Medicines in the Netherlands are not always the same as those prescribed in other countries. If you are taking medication prescribed to you in another country, it is best to show it to your huisarts (GP) and/or apotheker (pharmacist). In particular, many brand names and packaging will be different in the Netherlands though the content may be identical.
Which vaccinations are common in the Netherlands and how can I arrange to get them?
All early childhood vaccinations are given at the consultatiebureau (child health clinic) and are free of charge. The rijksvaccinatieprogramma – RVP (national immunisation programme) currently includes vaccinations for the following diseases:
- DKTP: combined vaccination for D = Diphtheria, K = Whooping Cough (kinkhoest), T = Tetanus, P = Poliomyelitis
- HIB = Haemophilus influenza type B
- BMR = Bof (Mumps), Mazelen (Measles), Rode hond (Rubella: German Measles)
- Men C = Meningitis C
- Pneu = Pneumococcal vaccination. The pneumococcal vaccine protects against 10 types of pneumococcal bacteria which can cause pneumococcal disease in young children.
- Hep B = Hepatitis B vaccination
- HPV = Human Papilloma Virus (only for girls)
For an updated list, visit the Dutch government’s site https://www.rivm.nl/en/national-immunisation-programme
For general vaccination information, you can approach the Municipal and Regional Health Service (GGD).
The GGD is the municipal health organisation for preventative healthcare. Once you have registered at the town hall, the GGD will let you know automatically which immunisation programme (if any) you need to follow.
I would like to have additional shots for my child or for myself that are not standard in the Netherlands. How can I arrange this?
You will have to contact your huisarts (GP) or visit a specialised vaccinatie bureau (vaccination centre). Please bear in mind that you will probably have to pay for additional shots yourself.
Where can I find help for mental health problems?
If you have mental health problems, you need to discuss this with your huisarts (GP). He/she can provide you with a referral to a psychologist. You will need this referral in order to get the costs covered by your health insurance.
Depending on the severity of your problems there are three options:
- If you have minor issues, your GP or an assistant of the GP specialised in mental health problems can help you
- If your problems are moderate, your GP will refer you to a psychologist for treatment according to the basic Geestelijke Gezondheidszorg – GGZ (mental health care)
- If your problems are very serious or complicated, your GP will refer you to a psychologist specialised in complex mental health care (specialistische GGZ). This usually involves a longer and multidisciplinary treatment
ACCESS offers a Counselling Service Network (CSN) of licensed professionals with practices all over the Netherlands. Counsellors are men and women who are psychologists, mental health counsellors and social workers from a variety of cultural backgrounds. All counsellors have a minimum Master’s level degree with at least two years’ supervised work experience. Every month, two ACCESS counsellors are on-call; they can provide a free referral to a member of the ACCESS CSN who can best assist you. You can find out here which counsellors are on call.
Some insurers have helpdesks which will assist you in finding a registered practitioner who speaks your language or who shares your cultural background. Otherwise you can check the Counselling Service Network (CSN) to find a practitioner in your area.
Can I get mental health treatments reimbursed?
If you need psychological help, the costs are covered by your basic insurance. Keep in mind that if your basic insurance is of natura (in kind) policy, you will only be covered if you go to a psychologist who is contracted by your insurance. It is suggested to contact your insurance company to find out which psychologists are contracted.
In certain cases, you may have to pay your eigen risico (deductible) first.
Sometimes the health care professional at the GP’s practice can help you. This counts as a treatment from the GP and is exempted from your eigen risico.
You get only reimbursed if your mental health provider is recognised in the Netherlands. This means he/she needs to have a so-called BIG (Beroepen in de Gezondheidszorg , Professions in Healthcare) registration.
If you don’t get reimbursed because your mental health provider is not BIG registered, you may be able to deduct the costs from your taxes (depending on your income). Please check with your tax advisor if you qualify for this.
Please note that some treatments are not covered such as:
- Treatment for problems related to work, school or relationship
- Intelligence tests
- Treatment for dyslexia
- Coaching, training, courses
- Educational assessments
- Treatment for obesity and eating disorders
- Physical examination for e.g. driving license, sports
I am pregnant and will be giving birth in the Netherlands. What practical preparations do I need to make?
The Dutch philosophy is that childbirth is a natural, physical process, not a medical condition. Prenatal care is usually provided by a verloskundige (midwife). The role of the doctor or gynaecologist in a normal pregnancy in the Netherlands is minor, and in most cases they do not get involved at all, unless there are complications. Therefore, the first priority is to find a midwife. It is best to register with your midwife by week 8-10 or as soon as you arrive in the Netherlands.
You can search the online ‘Yellow Pages’ (in Dutch only), under ‘verloskundigenpraktijk’ or talk to your huisarts (GP) – he/she will be able to point you in the right direction.
There are a few other things that you should consider:
- Make sure you know what your health insurance coverage covers for you.
- Register yourself with a kraamzorg (postnatal maternity care) agency, preferably before week 12 of your pregnancy. Your midwife can direct you to organisations that they partner with, and your health insurance provider must be contacted to ensure your chosen maternity care agency or ‘so-called’ kraamcentrum is approved by them.
- Decide where you want your baby delivered. The Dutch are big believers in home births, so make it clear if you want to give birth in a hospital. You have the flexibility of changing your mind at the last minute if you decide to go for a home birth.
In addition to midwife visits, it may also be advisable for you to consider attending a childbirth preparation course. ACCESS offers this course in The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht. Visit the ACCESS website for further information.
Will my Dutch health insurance cover childbirth costs if I am already pregnant when I move to the Netherlands?
Maternity care is covered by basic insurance, and pregnancy is covered even if it is a pre-existing condition.
If you have just moved to the Netherlands and have applied for health insurance, it might take some time before you are insured. In that case, it is still possible to see a midwife. You will probably have to pay for the visit. If the appointment is on or after the starting date of your insurance, the costs will be reimbursed as soon as you receive your insurance number.
If a hospital birth is for a medical reason (i.e. you have been referred to secondary care), your health insurance company will normally cover the total costs. Choosing a hospital birth when there is no medical reason is not covered by the basic health insurance. Some additional insurance policies cover these costs or a part of it – check your own health insurance to establish exactly which costs are covered. For more information please click here
Can you please tell me what services I can expect from a midwife?
In the Netherlands, maternity care is organised in a so-called ‘primary, secondary and tertiary care model’. Primary care, for low-risk women, is usually performed by verloskundigen (midwives) and huisarten (GPs), where GPs are responsible for only about 0.5% of all births. Secondary care consists of gynaecologists in hospitals.
Hence, midwives in the Netherlands are the lead medical professionals for providing care to women with ‘normal’ or uncomplicated pregnancies. They are independent practitioners (like GPs) who can work independently in a private midwifery practice or as part of a group.
After registering with a midwife, you will initially receive a check-up once a month. As the pregnancy progresses, the midwife will want to see you more frequently. In case of complications or an increased risk of complications during pregnancy, labour or in the postpartum period, the midwife will refer her client to a gynaecologist who will take over responsibility.
As an independent practitioner, a midwife can legally practice obstetrics without the supervision of a medical doctor. He/she is the sole healthcare provider during pregnancy, labour, delivery and the initial postpartum (postnatal) period. In short, he/she will help ensure that you and your baby are safe during pregnancy and through to delivery. Among other things, you can expect a midwife to:
- Record you and your partner’s medical history, as well as that of your extended family
- Monitor your weight and blood pressure, the foetal growth, position and heart beat
- Check your blood iron levels
- Discuss your plans about delivery, i.e. whether you plan to give birth at home or in an outpatient clinic (hospital or birth centre)
- Assist you during labour, delivery and the initial post-partum period
Please note that you do not need a referral from your GP. You will find midwives listed in the Yellow Pages (in Dutch only). Alternatively, you can talk to your huisarts (GP) – he/she will be able to help you finding one in your local area.
It is reassuring to know that you can always change your midwife during your pregnancy if it does not click, or you feel that your birth plan cannot be carried out as you want.
If there are medical reasons for it, the midwife will refer you to the gynaecologist who will supervise all phases of care and the delivery will take place in a hospital.
How can I find a native English-speaking midwife?
Most midwives in the Netherlands have a good command of the English language. Your huisarts (GP) should be able to refer you to an English-speaking midwife, so please do not hesitate to ask him/her for a referral or recommendation. We also suggest that you visit the English pages of the Royal Netherlands Organisation of Midwives website.
Which prenatal tests are usually carried out in the Netherlands?
In the case of a low-risk pregnancy, you will be offered two ultrasound scans: one in the first term or trimester (0-13 weeks) to determine a due date and one anomaly scan at twenty weeks. Both scans are covered by your health insurance. Some midwives perform an additional scan at 30 and/or 36 weeks, but this is not done in all cases. Usually there needs to be a medical reason to have additional ultrasound scans. The scans are sometimes made by the midwife herself in her own practice; otherwise, you will be referred to a primary care ultrasound centre.
As a pregnant woman living in the Netherlands, you have the option of having your child tested before birth. In this way, you can opt for tests that screen for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes. It is worth noting that not all pregnant women opt for screening tests, but all will be offered them.
- If you decide to have your child tested for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes, you can choose to have:
- A combined test: a blood test between the ninth and fourteenth week and an ultrasound scan between the 11th and 14th weeks of pregnancy.
- The NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing): a blood test that can be performed in the eleventh week of pregnancy or later.
- Parents who are expecting a child can have their unborn baby tested for spina bifida or other genetic disorders. The ultrasound is performed between the 18th and 22nd weeks of pregnancy.
For more information about the costs of these tests, we suggest that you consult this website (in Dutch only) linked to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport).
Should I follow a prenatal course?
Prenatal courses are organised to educate expectant women and their partners in the preparation for labour, offering you tools to manage your labour pain, optimal positions for birth, tips for recovery after birth and how to be a new mother. They usually last between four to eight weeks and are often followed by a postnatal session. It is recommended to register by week 16, as the classes can often fill up quickly.
A prenatal course provides the opportunity to meet other expectant mothers or couples, but the class you choose and how helpful it is once labour starts may depend on your knowledge of the language (courses will be available mainly in Dutch but also in English). Therefore, it is important to choose a prenatal course carefully.
In larger Dutch cities, you can find prenatal courses offered especially for internationals. ACCESS offers childbirth preparation courses in various cities. These courses are tailored specifically to the international community and are conducted in English. The courses provide an informative practical insight into pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and breastfeeding and explain how the Dutch healthcare system works. The courses also have the added advantage that you are able to meet other international couples.
If you want to take part in the course, you need to be in your third trimester, i.e. be at least 26 weeks pregnant. More information about the ACCESS-run childbirth preparation courses is available via this link. Alternatively, if you wish to find a prenatal course in your area, you can ask the Helpdesk to locate one nearest to you.
Where can I learn more about breastfeeding?
A good place to start is to contact your kraamcentrum (maternity care agency) as many of them have lactation specialists and offer their own breastfeeding courses for expectant mothers. They will also be there to offer support and advice during the first week of your baby’s life. To find your nearest maternity care agency, please look at the list provided on the ‘kraamcentrum’ tab on the official kraamzorg website (in Dutch only).
One of the best ways to look for breastfeeding courses is to find an English-speaking lactation consultant in your area. They specialise in breastfeeding issues, and they often also give group courses or individual sessions. Alternatively, ask your midwife if she/he knows any English-speaking breastfeeding courses in your area.
If you have any questions or problems, you can also visit the website of the Cooperating Breastfeeding Organisations (Samenwerkende Borstvoeding Organisaties – SBA): Borstvoeding.nl (in Dutch only). Here you can find links to the five main organisations involved in protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding in the Netherlands, as well as a tool to locate breastfeeding cafés near you.
Which are the options for delivering a baby in the Netherlands?
Low-risk women may choose whether to give birth at home, in a hospital or a birth centre. If you have an increased obstetrical risk, the birth will be supervised by a gynaecologist.
Thuis bevallen (home birth)
If a woman chooses a home birth, her primary care verloskundige (midwife) will attend her birth, aided by a kraamverzorgster (maternity aide). The insurance company usually provides a maternity box and the midwife will bring her own equipment, which always includes a neonatal resuscitation set and oxygen. If complications arise, the midwife will refer the patient to a gynaecologist in a hospital. Every hospital in the Netherlands accepts these referrals from primary care midwives.
Poliklinisch or geboortecentrum bevallen (hospital or birth centre)
The birth is attended by the same primary care midwife who provided care during the pregnancy. The midwife will also provide the postnatal care at home. In case of giving birth at a birth centre your own midwife will assist you. Birth centres are often part of a hospital. Both options are considered outpatient clinics, meaning the mother will usually stay less than 24 hours in the hospital or the birth centre.
Ziekenhuisbevalling (hospital birth with medical necessity)
Women who have an increased obstetrical risk be referred to a hospital and therefore there will not be extra costs. The birth will be supervised by a gynaecologist (in training).
You can find more information about the different places you can give birth here (in Dutch only).
What will happen if I choose to give birth at home?
Your verloskundige (midwife) will attend the labour and delivery. She will also help with preparations to ensure the safety and comfort of you and your child. Should any complications arise, you will be taken to hospital.
The Dutch health and safety regulations require that your bed is elevated with ‘klossen’. This way you have a means for adjusting the height of your bed to 80 cm from the ground to the top of your mattress. This is a requirement for the kraamverzorgende (maternity aide) when she comes to your house once your child is born (usually during the first week after birth).
There are Dutch online shops that provide all the necessary equipment for a home birth, the so-called ‘kraampakket’ and postnatal care. This equipment may also be useful even if you do not give birth at home. You can buy it at a drugstore or check with your insurance company if they cover or provide it for you. Alternatively, you can conduct an Internet search using the terms ‘thuiszorg’ (homecare) and ‘winkels’ (shops).
Can I choose to give birth in a hospital?
Most hospitals organise information evenings, including a tour of the maternity unit, which may help you make a decision. Always have a second hospital in mind in case the hospital of your choice is full.
Women usually return home within 24 hours of delivery and may be free to leave in as little as four hours after delivery. You will only be discharged once you feel confident and comfortable that you are ready to go home. A stay of less than 24 hours is considered outpatient clinic.
Sometimes giving birth does not go according to plan, e.g. your baby could be overdue and you have to be induced, or you might need a caesarean section. In that case, a gynaecologist will provide assistance. A hospital stay could vary from 24 hours to 10 days, depending on possible interventions during birth and/or necessary postnatal care.
You can contact hospitals in your area to enquire if they provide information evenings for internationals.
Will I be able to get pain relief?
In the Netherlands, only a third of women in labour are given pain relief, and caesareans are relatively low, there is 24/7 availability of epidural pain relief for women in labour, making it much easier to get an epidural. Please note that medical pain relief cannot be administered during home births. Midwives in the Netherlands are not qualified to administer anaesthetics and are restricted to using only non-prescription drugs. Your midwife can then refer you to a hospital or birth centre, but please be aware that there is not always an anaesthetist (the person who will be able to give you the epidural) available outside normal working hours.
During pregnancy, Dutch midwives provide information about medical pain relief, and they provide high quality continuous support during birth. In this way, they try to optimise their care and minimise the need for medical pain relief.
What is kraamzorg?
Every pregnant woman in the Netherlands has the right to postnatal maternity care. Kraamzorg (postnatal maternity care) is the term given to the medical service provided by a kraamverzorgende (maternity aide) to the new mother and her baby. Normally, 49 hours of serrvice is provided with a minimum of 24 hours and maximum 80 hours over a period of ten days following delivery. However, the hours you are entitled to it will vary depending on the particular circumstances.
What is the role of a kraamverzorgende (maternity nurse)?
The kraamverzorgende (maternity aide) is a trained medical professional who will provide a range of services that may include:
- Helping during a home birth
- Guiding the mother through the feeding, bathing and taking care of their child, physically as well as emotionally, teaching her how to recognise the baby’s needs and how to attend to them
- Monitoring the health of the mother and her newborn child, acting as a link between the family and the midwife/GP
- Ensuring the house environment is maintained to an appropriate level of hygiene by cleaning the toilets, the bathroom and the mother’s and baby’s rooms every day
- Helping with light household duties during her stay to ensure the mother gets sufficient rest
The exact details of what your particular maternity aide will help with, as well as the frequency and length of her visits, will normally be determined before the birth. This first (prenatal) home visit will take place at around the seventh or eighth month of the pregnancy. It allows both parties to discuss the expectant mother’s needs and expectations. Once the baby is born, you have the option of adjusting the agreed schedule to more or less involvement after consultation with the agency. Flexibility is the key here.
It is important to note that the maternity aide is trained to guide and assist, not dominate or interfere. They will adapt to your way of doing things, not the other way around. If you decide that you do not want to breastfeed, then that will be taken as your choice. No pressure will be applied for you to conform to a given dogma, and support will be provided if you want it.
How can I register with a kraamzorg?
It is suggested that you register with a kraamcentrum (maternity care agency) prior to the 12th week of pregnancy so that you can be assured of postpartum care. More recently, most agencies have started to accept registrations at any point during the pregnancy. However, you are strongly advised to register as early as possible with your preferred maternity care agency or so-called ‘kraamzorg agency’. The sooner contact has been made, the more time both parties have to make arrangements and communicate their needs and expectations.
Click here for more information about kraamzorg (in Dutch only). Fill in your postcode for a list of maternity care agencies in your area. Your midwife may also be able to direct you to a preferred agency. You must contact your health insurance provider to ensure your chosen maternity care agency is approved by them.
How much will the kraamzorg cost me?
Families generally receive an average 49 hours of care, spread over a ten-day period. The minimum number of hours to which you are entitled is 24 hours. The necessary hours of support that you will require is determined on the basis of the Landelijk Indicatieprotocol Kraamzorg (the National Recommended Protocol for Maternity Care). Your kraamzorgorganisatie (maternity care agency) or kraamverzorgende als zzp’er (independent maternity nurse) will explain this to you during the intake. Depending on your health insurance coverage, the payment that you make can be partially or even wholly covered. There is a statuary eigen bijdrage (own contribution) for kraamzorg at your home. If you decide to receive kraamzorg in a hospital or birthing centre without a medical indication, the cost will be much higher. Please check with your health insurance provider for further details regarding what costs are covered.
If you have a non-Dutch healthcare provider, you should get in touch with the kraamzorgorganisatie or kraamverzorgende, as they will be able to tell you more about your situation or contact your insurer on your behalf.
What is a 'doula' and what can she help me with?
A doula supports women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood. This support is practical and emotional, but non-medical in nature, as doulas are not medically trained. Hiring a doula is a relatively new phenomenon in the Netherlands.
The provision of continuous support during labour is associated with improved maternal and foetal health and a variety of other benefits, including lower risk of induction and interventions and less need for pain relief.
A postnatal doula will assist a new mother at home with emotional support as well as physical assistance around the home. After the birth, the doula will visit the couple once or twice to follow up on the birth. Some doulas provide birth hypnosis and other support strategies. All doulas are on call 24 hours a day for their clients and many provide an on-going postnatal support service.
Please note that only a few insurance companies offer to cover the cost of a doula. Visit the official website for doulas at doula.nl (Dutch only)
What check-ups will be done after the birth of my baby?
Your verloskundige (midwife) will visit you at home within a week of your child’s birth. If you have seen a gyneacologist instead of a midwife, you must go to their clinic for appointments, or arrange a visit to your doctor or midwife. You must check with the hospital to see if they organise this visit by a verloskundige; if not, you will be required to make an appointment with a local verloskundige yourself. The verloskundige is also responsible for the hielprik (heel prick test) where a sample of blood is taken from the baby’s heel to detect for hereditary illnesses. This occurs during the week when the kraamverzorgster (maternity aide) is caring for you and your baby.
You will have a final postnatal check-up six weeks after the baby is born at the practice of your verloskundige (midwife) or in the hospital.
What does a consultatiebureau (child health clinic) do?
Preventative healthcare is the primary goal of the consultatiebureau (child health clinic). It provides vaccinations free of charge and checks the growth and development of babies and toddlers up to four years of age under the guidance of resident nurses and doctors. Once your child is going to primary school (usually at the age of 4 as kindergarten is part of primary school), the check-ups are continued by a schoolarts (school doctor). Going to a consultatiebureau or schoolarts is not compulsory, but it is strongly advised. You are not required to follow the advice of the consultatiebureau or schoolarts should you feel that it is not good for your child.
As soon as you register your child’s birth, the child is automatically registered with your nearest child health clinic. This is done at the stadhuis (town hall) in the town where the baby was born, within the department of municipal population affairs. If your baby is not born in the town where you live, the procedure is different. When your baby is two weeks old, a child health clinic nurse (wijkverpleegster ) will pay an initial visit to your home. During this visit, the nurse will gather your child’s medical history, explain how the child health clinic system works, give you a copy of the ‘Groeiboek’ book (an English version called ‘growth guide’ is available on request). The growth guide outlines a baby’s first years of development, supplies important phone numbers, lists appointments you have attended at the clinic, records vaccinations, and charts your baby’s height and weight. It will also provide you with the name and address of your nearest child health clinic. If you do not have this book, your family doctor or midwife can direct you to your nearest child health clinic.
Please note that any vaccinations for your child will be given at the child health clinic. Click here for more information.
When do I need to register my child to the consultatiebureau (child health clinic)?
Once your baby/child has been registered in the gemeente (municipality) – because your child was born abroad and you just moved to the Netherlands or if you have just given birth in the Netherlands – you will receive an invitation from the consultatiebureau (child health clinic) in order to make your first appointment.
If your child is not registered at the municipality, for example if you have privileged status (representatives of other countries and staff of international organisations, including their families usually have this status), you can contact your closest child health clinic directly and register your child yourself. If you have a newborn, it can be worth asking your kraamzorgende (maternity aide) for help in doing so. During the first year, you will visit the child health clinic approximately eight times and then a few times each successive year until your child is four years old.
What maternity leave am I entitled to?
Employees are entitled to at least 16 weeks of paid zwangerschapsverlof (pregnancy leave) and bevallingsverlof (maternity leave), starting in most cases four to six weeks before the expected date of the child’s birth or due date. Please note that it is a government requirement that you must take pregnancy leave – meaning you must stop working – four weeks before the due date. After the birth of your child, you are entitled to take up to at least ten weeks of paid maternity leave, even if the baby was born after its due date. You are required to inform your employer at least three weeks prior to the beginning of your pregnancy leave .You will be required to submit a certificate, either from your doctor or midwife, to your employer in which the baby’s due date is stated.
Your employer will claim the maternity and pregnancy benefit (zwangerschaps- en bevallingsuitkering) on your behalf to the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV). This should be done at least two weeks before the start date of your pregnancy leave, and it is usually paid to the employer. However, if it is more convenient for you to get it transferred directly (e.g. your employment contract ends during your leave), check with your employer.
This benefit will match the mother’s salary. Please note there is a maximum daily amount that is updated yearly. If your normal salary exceeds this daily allowance, then your employer may make up the difference, but this is not mandatory. Find the latest information at the UWV website (in Dutch only): www.uwv.nl/particulieren/zwanger-adoptie-pleegzorg/zwanger-met-werkgever.
Partners are entitled to five days of kraamverlof or vaderschapsverlof (paternity leave) paid in full by the employer when their partner has just given birth and maximum five weeks unpaid leave after their child is born. These entitlements are equally applicable to married couples who already have children.
Both you and your partner may take ouderschapsverlof (additional unpaid parental leave). This is a leave entitlement that you can take in order to care for a child who is less than eight years of age. You must have been working for the same employer for at least one year. If you have more than one child, you can take parental leave for each child separately. Please note, this additional leave is not paid unless special arrangements are made between the employer and the employee. In addition both partners can take 9 weeks of parental leave in addition to the leave mentioned above. This leave will be partly paid and has to be taken within one year after the birth of the baby.
What other leaves-of-absence from work are there relating to my children?
The Dutch government provides several different arrangements to cover the rights for parents to take care of their child.
- Emergency leave (calamiteitenverlof): Employees are entitled to a short leave, with salary, when the employee cannot work because of very exceptional personal circumstances. You can be entitled to emergency leave, for instance, if your child becomes ill and you have to care for him/her at home, or if the child is ill and you have to collect him/her from school.
- Short-term care leave (kortdurend zorgverlof): In addition to emergency leave, short-term care leave is available to employees who have to look after a sick child, partner, family members or other persons living with them or a very close friend or neighbour; the employer must pay at least 70% of your salary.
- Long-term care leave (langdurend zorgverlof): If necessary, the employee can ask for an extension to the short-term leave to continue caring for the same person. However, this leave is totally unpaid and can be taken all in one block or spread over a maximum period of 26 weeks.
- Adoption leave (adoptieverlof): Parents adopting a child are entitled to a maximum of six weeks paid adoption leave. The same entitlement applies for foster parents, if it is clear from the start that the child will be joining the family on a permanent basis. Adoption leave can start up to four weeks prior to the handover of the child to the adoptive parents.
- Ouderschapsverlof (parental leave) You are entitled to parental leave when you have been working for the same employer for at least one year and are caring for a child who is younger than eight. Both parents are entitled to parental leave. If you have more children, you may take parental leave for each child separately. You are also entitled to parental leave for your adopted children, foster children or stepchildren, provided the child is living with you. You are entitled to parental leave up to 26 times your weekly working hours. The normal arrangement is that for one yerar, you work half of your normal hours. For example, if you work 32 hours per week, then forone year you will work 16 hours per week together while taking 16 hours parental leave per week. Parental leave is unpaid. In addition, both parents are entitled to nine extra weeks of parental leave. This leave will be partly paid.
- Geboorteverlof is the official name for vaderschapsverlof (paternity leave) You are entitled to one full week of paid paternity leave within four weeks after the birth of the baby. In addition you can a take a maximum of five weeks extra paternity leave, which is partially paid. Before you are allowed to use these five weeks, you must have first used the week of paid leave. You must use the additional leave within six months after the birth. During the extra paternity leave, you don’t receive a salary but a the benefit from the UWV (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, Employee Insurance Agency). This is 70% of your salary. If your salary is higher than a certain maximum, you will receive 70% of this maximum. You can read more about this on https://www.uwv.nl/particulieren/overige-onderwerpen/aanvullend-geboorteverlof-voor-partners/hoe-regelt-aanvullend-geboorteverlof/index.aspx (in Dutch only).
More information can be found at: business.gov.nl/regulation/leave-schemes.
How can I get kindersbijslag (child benefit) and how does it work?
The kinderbijslag (child benefit) is a government allowance towards the expenses of raising a child. You are eligible for this allowance if you live and/or work in the Netherlands (or abroad but employed by a Dutch employer) and have a child or children under 18 years of age. There are no income or asset criteria. The procedure to claim child benefits is:
- Following the registration of your child’s birth at your gemeente (municipality), your data will be forwarded to the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB)
- Within two to four weeks, the SVB will contact you about applying for the child benefit by mail or by submitting your application online using your DigiD (your digital identification code giving access to hundreds of Dutch Government websites).
- After you have requested the child benefit, the SVB will send you its decision, stating the amount you will receive per child and the starting date for your child benefit.
- The amount that you will receive is based upon the age of your child, number of children you have, and whether there are any special needs.
- A quarterly payment is made into your bank account until your child reaches age18. When your child is older than 16, you will only continue receiving the child benefit if he/she goes to school and receives an income of no more than an annually fixed amount.
The child benefit is not exclusively for bringing up and caring of your own children; it also applies to adopted children, foster children, stepchildren or other children you bring up and care for as if they were your own. In this case, you must contact the SVB yourself to ask them to send you an application form. It is the same procedure if you arrive in the Netherlands with children who were born abroad. You can find the forms and further information at: https://www.svb.nl/en/child-benefit.
If your child lives outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland, the amount that you receive for the child benefit may be adjusted to the price level in your child’s country of residence. Should the amount you are receiving be changed, you should receive a letter from the SVB informing you of the new amount.
What is kindgebonden budget (child-related budget) and do I qualify for it?
If you receive the kinderbijslag (child benefit), you may also qualify for kindgebonden budget (child-related budget). This is an extra monthly contribution from the government for low-income families. The child-related budget is granted by the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB) and paid by the tax authorities (Belastingdienst). If you are receiving the child benefit, the SVB will submit a claim to the Belastingdienst for a child-related budget.
Whether you are eligible for the child-related budget depends on your family income and assets. If you qualify, you will receive a letter from them within eight weeks. If you don’t hear from the Belastingdienst, it means that your family income is too high to get this benefit. However, if you think you are entitled to a child-related budget, you can request it online with your DigiD account via ‘Mijntoeslagen’. Further information is available https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/bldcontentnl/belastingdienst/prive/toeslagen/kindgebonden-budget/voorwaarden/ (in Dutch only)
I am going to have a child. What should I do to register the birth of my child?
Registering the birth of a child takes places at your gemeente (municipality) in the city where your baby is born. This must be done within three working days from the date of the birth of the baby. If the birth occurs over a weekend or public holiday, you must register the birth on the first available working day. This service is provided free of charge. Normally the partner is required to register the birth; however, if this is not possible, e.g. because the father is not known, then somebodyb else who was present at the birth (such as a family member) may undertake this duty. If you are not married, it is suggested the father recognises the unborn child prior to its birth. This can be done at the townhall in the town where the baby will be born. If this is not done beforehand, then the mother will have to accompany the father to the townhall after birth.
Further information on the Dutch government website.
The Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships will draw up a birth certificate. This is the legal proof of the child’s birth. You may also want to request an international birth certificate which can be issued for a fee.
Which documents should I bring to register the birth of my newborn child?
Registering the birth of a child takes places at the gemeente where your child was born (municipality). Please bring the following documents:
- Valid passport or identity card (ID card) of the person registering the birth. Or a driving license if the person registering the birth lives in the municipality where the birth is being registered
- Valid passport or ID card of the mother or a driving license if the mother lives in the municipality where the birth is being registered
The following documents are not compulsory when registering a birth. It may, however, be useful to take them with you:
- Birth notification from the hospital or midwife showing the child’s birth names and the date and time of birth
- Where applicable, a copy of the declaration of acknowledgement of parentage if the child was acknowledged before birth
- Declaration of surname choice if the child’s surname was decided when acknowledging the child before birth.
Which surname can I choose for my child?
For your first child, you can choose either the mother’s surname or the father’s surname. This surname will be given to all subsequent children. This is to ensure that all the children in a family have the same surname. You can choose your first child’s surname before birth or when registering the birth. Both parents must go to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships to register the choice of surname. This cannot be done by one parent or in writing.
If you do not choose a surname, your child will automatically be given the father’s surname or the mother’s surname. This depends on the family situation:
Parents who are married or registered partners (of different sexes)
Your child will automatically be given the father’s surname. However, you can choose the mother’s surname instead. To do so, both parents must go to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships to register the choice of the mother’s surname. You can do this before the birth or when registering the birth.
Unmarried parents (of different sexes)
Your child will automatically be given the mother’s surname. If you would prefer your child to be given the father’s surname, he must acknowledge the child. At the time of acknowledgement, you will also be asked for your choice of surname. To acknowledge the child and choose its surname, both parents must go to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships. You can do this before the birth or when registering the birth.
Parents of the same sex (two men)
If you adopt a child with another man, you can choose either of your surnames. However, this only applies to your first child. Your other children will be given the same surname as your first child. You choose the surname of your child in court when formalising the adoption.
Parents of the same sex (two women)
If two women who are married or registered partners have a child, the following applies:
- The child was conceived through an anonymous sperm donation: the child is given the surname of the co-mother (the female partner of the biological mother). This only applies if the co-mother automatically becomes the child’s lawful parent when the child is born. The parents can also choose the surname of the biological mother.
- The child was conceived through a known donor and the co-mother acknowledges the child: the child is given the surname of the biological mother. The parents can also choose the surname of the co-mother by signing a declaration of surname choice.
Is my baby going to be insured automatically after birth?
This is not the case. You have to register your baby within four months after birth. The baby will receive healthcare free of charge until reaching the age of 18.
Do I need to make a will or change it upon the birth of my child?
After the birth of your child, it is suggested that you should consider making a will if you have not already done so. If the unexpected happens and both you and your partner die suddenly, it is in your best interests to stipulate in a legally-recognised document who should become the guardian. If no will exists in these circumstances, the Dutch courts may decide that your baby/child should be put into state care as an orphan. To make a will in the Netherlands, you should make an appointment with a Dutch notaris (notary). Please note that if you have already made a will, you are advised to amend it to reflect the fact that you now have a child (a dependent).
If you have already made a will in your previous country of residence or origin, this document will be recognised by the Dutch authorities as long as it conforms to the legal requirements of the country in which it was written and does not contain any stipulations which would conflict with any public order or public morality legislation in the Netherlands.
Please note that the Dutch court will automatically go through the process of establishing legal guardianship should both parents of the child die suddenly. However, this may take some time if your will was made in another country and thus not registered with a Dutch notary. It is thus suggested that you should make your close relatives (parents or siblings) aware of the existence of your will and where it can be found.
I am going to have a baby in the Netherlands. Will my child have Dutch nationality?
Children born in the Netherlands to parents who are not Dutch citizens will not normally have the right to Dutch nationality at birth. However, if either of the child’s parents is a Dutch citizen, then the child will acquire Dutch nationality at birth under the following situations:
- The mother is a Dutch citizen on the day of the child’s birth
- The father is a Dutch citizen on the day of the child’s birth. He is also married to or in a registered partnership with the non-Dutch mother
- The father is Dutch but not married to or in a registered partnership with the non-Dutch mother and he acknowledged the child before birth
Please note that it does not matter whether the child was born in the Netherlands or abroad.
My partner and I are living together but we are not married and I am going to have a baby. Will my partner be officially recognised as the father? And what if we get married?
In the Netherlands, if a man and a woman are not married or are not in a registered partnership, then the man will not automatically be recognised as the lawful father of any children that they may have. This is irrespective of the fact that the man is the child’s biological father.
If you are not married and your partner wants to be regarded as the child’s lawful father, he must go through the formal process of acknowledging that he is the child’s rightful father. This also applies if you are in a cohabitation agreement. Complying with the Dutch process of formally acknowledging the child may be important for giving the right of inheritance, nationality, determining parental access and/or parental guidance.
Further information on the subject can be found at the following Dutch government website: www.government.nl/issues/family-law.
In a marriage or registered partnership between two women, the biological mother is automatically registered as parent. How the co-mother can become registered as a legal parent, either automatically or by acknowledgement, is explained on the Dutch government’s website.
I want to travel with my baby. Does he/she need a passport?
All babies and minors are required to have their own passport when travelling to any country which is not part of the European Union Schengen area (note: not all EU countries are signatories to the Schengen agreement). Please note that if you are travelling within the Schengen area (see this website for a list of countries in the Schengen area), you are still advised to take your and your baby’s passport or ID card with you, so you can prove your identity, if required (e.g. if stopped by police).
Even if only one of the parents is Dutch, the child is still eligible to obtain a Dutch passport. However, if neither of you are Dutch citizens, your child is not entitled to a Dutch passport, irrespective of where the child was born. Under these circumstances, you should apply for a passport for your child from either your embassy or the national passport office in your native country.
What is included in the basic Dutch health insurance package?
Health insurance companies have an obligation to accept everyone for the basic package, irrespective of gender, age and health. It is compulsory for all residents of the Netherlands to take this package, but you may choose your own insurance company.
The coverage of the basisverzekering (basic health insurance) is determined by the government and is subject to annual review. However, insurance companies can decide themselves how the coverage will work. For example, some providers will only allow you to see local doctors, while others may offer the possibility to travel abroad for healthcare if the service is not available in the Netherlands.
It generally covers the following (but not always 100% of all costs):
- hospital care
- medical care by specialists, GPs and midwives
- dental care for children up to age 18
- therapists, such as speech therapists and dieticians
- mental health care
- maternity care
- necessary medical help during a holiday or business trip abroad, worldwide
If you want to get medical help abroad, please check with your health insurance company which costs are covered, as it depends on the country you are going to visit. Emergency care abroad is covered for a maximum of 100% of the Dutch tariffs. Please be advised to contract an extra travel insurance that covers the costs on top of the 100% when visiting, for instance, the USA where healthcare costs are much higher. Click here for a list of Dutch health insurance providers.
Are there different health insurance policies? And what is the difference?
Some Dutch health insurance companies are restricting free choice of health care providers (doctors, physiotherapists, pharmacies, psychologists, hospitals and clinics). The implication is that when you go to a non-preferred provider, the insurance company will usually not reimburse the full cost. The reimbursement varies from 100% to 40%, depending on the company and particularly the health insurance polisvoorwaarden (policy).
You can choose between two types of health care policies:
- The natura polis (in-kind policy) will only allow you to go to providers that the company has contracted and they will pay your medical bills directly. If you decide to go to non-contracted providers, they will reimburse you for a much lower percentage and/or amount or you will not be reimbursed at all
- The restitutie polis (restitution policy) is more expensive because it honours the freedom of choice of provider. Therefore, you choose your own healthcare provider and pay the bill yourself. Later you will submit it to your insurance company for reimbursement. It will usually cover between 80% and 100% of what the health insurance companies consider a fair price. There is not any regulatory system that checks the health insurance companies on how they determine what the current rate is. These vary widely among the various insurance companies.
It is usual for all GPs to be contracted under the healthcare system (meaning that you can go to any huisarts (GP) and it will be covered by your insurance). That is not the case for all specialist care and paramedical services. The restitutie polis is more expensive than the natura polis, but it can be worth exploring further.
Is dental healthcare covered by the insurance?
Dental care is covered in the basisverzekering (basic healthcare insurance) for children under the age of 18. If you are 18 years or older, dental care can be covered by taking out a tandarts aanvullende verzekering (additional insurance dental care). The premium and coverage vary per health insurance company. In most cases, orthodontics are not covered.
Can I get additional coverage for my health insurance?
Not all health care is covered by the basic health insurance. You can opt for a aanvullende verzekering (additional health insurance) to cover physiotherapy, glasses, contact lenses, tandarts (dentist) or other services. Some insurances may also cover alternative medicine such as homeopathy and acupuncture. The coverage and premium differ per insurance company.
Additional health insurance is not obligatory and you are not obliged to take out the basic health insurance and additional health insurance with the same insurance company. However, insurance companies sometimes charge extra administration costs if you want to take out an additional insurance without the basic insurance. Please note that health insurance companies are not obliged to accept everyone who applies for additional health insurance. An insurance company can refuse to accept you as a client or can ask you about your health before accepting you.
How will my children be insured?
Children under the age of 18 are always covered under their parent’s premium for the basic package and dental care. Parents must register their child with an insurance company within four months of its birth.
Do I need a Dutch health insurance or can I use an international health insurance?
When you are legally living or working in the Netherlands for longer than four months, it is compulsory to get a Dutch health insurance, the so-called basisverzekering (basic insurance). If you have an international health insurance, please be aware that this might not be accepted, as it is not recognised as a valid Dutch health insurance. Upon arrival, it is best to have a look in your policy to see what the coverage of your international health insurance is.
The following rule applies:
If you are insured under the Wet Langdurige Zorg – Wlz (Long-term Care Act) you are obliged to take out a Dutch health insurance. You can ask the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringsbank- SVB) if you are insured under this act.
Do I need to take out Dutch health insurance if I am on a short-term stay?
If you are temporarily residing in the Netherlands (fewer than four months), you are not allowed to take out a Dutch health insurance. In that case, you should make sure to extend the international or travel insurance from your home country.
If I don’t have a Dutch health insurance policy yet, is there a way to get my medical costs reimbursed?
You need to have a Dutch health insurance within four months from the day you have a residence permit and are registered with the gemeente (municipality). Please note that you will pay Dutch health insurance from the day you registered. Meaning, if you registered on 1 January but you take out the Dutch insurance on 1 March, you still have to pay for January and February. You can arrange reimbursement for health care costs incurred during that period.
If obtaining a verblijfsvergunning (residence permit) takes a while, it is possible to take out a voluntary and temporary health insurance. This is a health insurance for those who do not have a verblijfsvergunning yet. An example of such an insurance can be found on the website of insurance company Oom https://www.oominsurance.com/to-the-netherlands/schengen-visitor-insurance/
I just took out a Dutch health insurance policy but now the insurance company wants me to pay the premium for a few months retrospectively. Can they do that?
If you take out a Dutch health insurance, you have to pay from the day you registered with the gemeente (municipality). Therefore, you may have to pay insurance premiums to the insurance company retrospectively. Please note that most insurance companies should allow you to pay the amount you owe in instalments.
What will happen if I don’t take out Dutch health insurance?
If you don’t take out Dutch health insurance within four months after registering in the Netherlands, you will get a letter from the CAK, the Dutch Healthcare Institute, reminding you to take out health care insurance within three months. If you fail to do so, you will have to pay a penalty. Then you will get another three months to take out a health insurance. If you still haven’t done that after this time, you will have to pay a second penalty and the CAK will arrange a health insurance for you. The verzekeringspremie (insurance premium) will be higher than if you had taken out health insurance yourself. Please note that this premium will be automatically deducted from your income during 12 months.
Is there a deductible (eigen risico)?
The eigen risico (deductible) is the amount you have to pay yourself before you receive a reimbursement from your health insurance company. Everyone over 18 years of age is required to pay a deductible on the basic insurance coverage. The deductible is decided by the government and updated annually.
You can voluntarily raise your deductible; then you will receive a discount on the insurance premium. The higher your voluntary deductible, the lower the premium you will be charged. While this may be attractive for relatively healthy individuals, it may become a risk on the long run. For example, if you get ill or get involved in an accident, the insurance company is able to claim the total of the deductible in one payment.
Does the deductible apply to all types of care?
The eigen risico (deductible) does not apply to all care from the basic health insurance. The following care services are excluded from the deductible:
- Visits to your huisarts (GP) or huisartsenpost (GP centre that opens outside office hours). Tests or prescribed medicine are not excluded from the deductible
- Maternity care and assistance at delivery
- Loans of medical equipment
- Certain care for some chronic diseases like diabetes type 2
- Healthcare for children under the age of 18
- Follow-up check-ups for organ donation and travel costs for organ donation
Find more information at the government’s website (in Dutch only):
Can I use my Dutch health insurance abroad?
When you are traveling in the EU/EEA (including Switzerland) and carry Dutch health insurance, you are entitled to the same health care as the locals. However, administration and reimbursement for public health care will be easier if you have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You can apply for the EHIC with your health insurance company and you will need to show it if you go to see a doctor or get hospital treatment abroad. Please bear in mind the following:
- EHIC is accepted only by doctors or hospitals under the local public health care system or so-called ‘statutory’ health care system. Therefore, private health care is not covered. If you are unsure, check with your insurance company about where you can go
- Healthcare systems vary from one country to another. Therefore, you may have to pay the care bills directly for treatment and get them reimbursed later on
- Usually only emergency care abroad is covered.
- If you are travelling abroad specifically for medical treatment you will be covered under different rules.
If you work in the Netherlands but reside in another country, different rules apply. In this case you can ask your Dutch health insurance company for an E106 form. With the 106 form, you are entitled to the statutorily insured medical care in your country of residence without having to pay a premium. However, costs will not always be reimbursed 100%. For more information, please contact your Dutch health insurance company.
Information for EU citizens
Information for Dutch residents
My residence permit has expired and my application to renew it has been rejected. Can I still get medical help here?
If you are living illegally in the Netherlands, you can get urgent medical help without paying. The doctor decides which help is urgent in each individual case.
What is a basic Dutch health insurance?
The basisverzekering (basic health insurance) covers general medical care such as visits to the huisarts (GP), hospital stays, most prescription medicine and various medical appliances. The coverage included in a basic health insurance is determined by the government. However, insurance companies can decide for themselves what to cover in the aanvullende verzekering (additional health insurance).
Some Dutch health insurance providers offer special health packages for students. Few companies are offering special health insurance packages for students who don’t need to take out a Dutch health insurance are:
www.loonzorg.nl , /www.aonstudentinsurance.com/students/en/ and /www.oominsurance.com/to-the-netherlands/oom-studying-in-the-netherlands-insurance/
Do I need to take out a Dutch health insurance if I am studying?
Different rules apply depending on whether you are under the age of 30 or older.
Students under the age of 30
If you are a student under the age of 30 and you are in the Netherlands for study purposes only (and don’t have a part-time job or paid internship), you are not required to take out a Dutch health insurance. Keep in mind that everybody in the Netherlands must be insured for medical care expenses. Therefore, you will have to make alternative arrangements for healthcare insurance. See below some of the arrangements you may have to do in order to be insured:
- Stay insured for your medical care through a national health system in your home country. If this is the case, make sure this provides adequate coverage during your stay in the Netherlands. If you are from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you are probably eligible to receive a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card provides coverage for necessary medical care costs while in the Netherlands. Check with your insurance company if that is an option. You can apply for the EHIC in your home country. More information is available on the European Commission website
- Take out a private insurance policy. There are private health insurance packages on the market especially for international students
If you have a paid internship and/or a part-time job next to your study, you are required to take out a basisverzekering (basic health insurance) with a Dutch health insurer. Some companies offering special health insurance packages for students who don’t need to take out a Dutch health insurance are :
www.loonzorg.nl , /www.aonstudentinsurance.com/students/en/ and /www.oominsurance.com/to-the-netherlands/oom-studying-in-the-netherlands-insurance/
Criteria for students aged 30 years or older
If you are 30 years of age or older, the following two criteria determine if you need to take out a Dutch healthcare insurance:
- If you are employed, you will need to take out Dutch public healthcare insurance
- If your stay is classified as a permanent stay, you will need to take out Dutch healthcare insurance
Your stay is classified as a permanent stay if your social, economic and legal base is in the Netherlands. This is generally considered to be the case if your stay lasts longer than one year.
Stays of less than one year are generally considered to be temporary. However, to assess whether your stay is permanent or temporary, the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB) takes a range of factors into consideration. Circumstances that may lead to your stay in the Netherlands being classified as temporary include regular return visits to your home country (including holidays), having a partner in your home country and maintaining a residence in your home country. In other words, your particular situation will always be taken into account.
If you want to be sure where you stand, you can always submit your case to the SVB.
I have received a letter from Zorginstituut Nederland requiring me to take out a Dutch health insurance. I am student and I am exempt to take one out. What should I do?
Even if you do not fall under the requirement to take out Dutch healthcare insurance, you might still receive a letter from the National Healthcare Institute (Zorginstituut Nederland) notifying you to arrange Dutch public healthcare insurance or risk a fine. It is important to contact the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB) right away to request an investigation of your insurance situation.
If you are required by Dutch law to obtain the basisverzekering (basic health insurance), visit the section Dutch health insurance on the on the ACCESS FAQ’s.
What is zorgtoeslag (healthcare allowance)?
The Dutch government provides a healthcare allowance called zorgtoeslag. This is only for people considered having a low income. If you have a Dutch healthcare insurance and you are over 18 years of age, you can apply for this allowance. The amount of this allowance depends on your income and on your household size (i.e. whether you are single, a single parent or a couple). The amount is decided by the government and changes annually. If you are eligible to receive a healthcare allowance, you can apply for this benefit on the Tax Office (Belastingdienst) website via ‘Mijn toeslagen’ using your DigiD account.
You do not have a DigiD yet? Here we explain what is a Digid and how to get it.
What are the requirements to receive zorgtoeslag (healthcare allowance)?
You qualify for zorgtoeslag (healthcare allowance) if you meet the following conditions:
- You are 18 years or older
- You have a Dutch health insurance
- You are Dutch or you have a valid residence permit
- You and your partner’s income is not too high
- You and your partner’s savings are not too high
The exact amounts of income and savings change annually. For an overview of the current amounts, please have a look at the website of the Tax office (Belastingdienst) ,
www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/bldcontentnl/belastingdienst/prive/toeslagen/zorgtoeslag/ (Dutch only)
What benefits are available in the Netherlands for low income households?
If you work or study in the Netherlands you may be entitled to a benefit. You can apply to the Belastingdienst (Tax Authorities) in order to receive a contribution towards the costs of your Dutch healthcare insurance (zorgtoeslag), rented house (huurtoeslag) or children (kindgebonden budget). Visit the Belastingdienst’s website in order to find general information on how benefits work.
Are the costs for giving birth covered by my Dutch health insurance?
In most cases the costs for giving birth are covered by the Dutch health insurance. However, you will have to pay the costs yourself if you decide to give birth in a hospital or birth centre without a medical necessity for doing so. Sometimes the additional insurance covers some of the costs. Please check with your insurance about what is covered.
I have a Dutch health insurance and would like to change to another insurance company. How can I arrange this?
You can change your health insurance company only once a year and only on 1 January. There is one exception: you can change your health insurance company during the year if you switch from one collective employer’s agreement to another (i.e. if you switch jobs).
You have to cancel your health insurance before 31 December. Your new health insurance company may offer to cancel your old insurance on your behalf. If they don’t offer this, it is best to send an aangetekende brief (registered letter) well in advance. A health insurance company is obliged to accept you for basic insurance, unless there are some payments overdue/outstanding at the current health insurance company. In such a case, the new company can refuse you basic health insurance.
The new health insurance company is allowed to refuse you for additional health insurance if you don’t meet its requirements. Therefore, it is advisable not to cancel your current additional health insurance until you have received an email or letter that the new company accepts you for additional insurance.
I am temporarily immobile. How can I arrange help?
Depending on your personal circumstances you may need the following kinds of help:
* help with personal care or nursing care. Personal care (persoonlijke verzorging) would be assistance with getting dressed/undressed and getting washed. Also nursing care (verpleegkundige zorg) such as giving injections, treatment of wounds, etc. This kind of help is called thuiszorg or wijkzorg and is covered by the basic health insurance. If you have an in kind (natura) policy, only help from organisations that have a contract with your health insurance company is covered. It is best to contact your health insurance company to find out with which organisation in your neighbourhood they have a contract. If you have a restitution policy, you can also get help from organisations that don’t have a contract with your insurance company. If your insurance company feels their costs are too high, they will only reimburse up to a certain maximum.
The help will be given as long as necessary. The organisation you choose will come to you, discuss what you need, how often (once a day, twice a day or more often) and how long they will come. The organisation that will help you takes care of the necessary paperwork.
* help in doing the household (dishwashing, doing the laundry, ironing, dust cleaning, etc.). This is covered by the Social Support Act (Wet Maatschappelijke Ondersteuning, WMO). You must contact the municipality as you need to have approval from them first. The municipality will decide how many hours help you can get.
Keep in mind that the Dutch system (both for personal care and for doing the household) expects your partner/children help you as well as people from your network (friends, neighbours). Usually people from your network are willing to help occasionally, but not for weeks or months.The health insurance company and the municipality will try to give you as little help as possible saying you can ask your network to do the rest. Be realistic what your neighbours are willing to do for you.
If you need any tools such as crutches, a toilet chair, a wheelchair, a pillow to avoid decubitus (wounds caused by sitting/lying very long in one position) etc. it is advised to contact Vegro, www.vegro.nl. (Dutch only) or Medipoint www.medipoint.nl (Dutch only). These organisations have shops all over the Netherlands which offer a wide choice of tools you might need, and they can also help you when you call them. They can also advise what would be useful considering your situation. In most cases you can borrow what you need free of charge as long as you need it and it will be delivered to your place.
What can I do when I am dissatisfied with the medical specialist?
When you are dissatisfied with the medical specialist, it is suggested to discuss it with him/her first. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you can file a complaint. Every hospital and clinic has a procedure for this.
If you have second thoughts about the medical solution provided by the specialist, you can ask another doctor for a second opinion. Depending on your preferences this can be a doctor in the same hospital or clinic or somewhere else. You need a new referral for this from your GP.
Does the Netherlands offer cancer screening?
The Netherlands has three cancer screening programs (bevolkingsonderzoek):
- breast cancer screening for women aged 50 to 75
- cervical cancer screening for women aged 30 to 60
- bowel cancer screening for men and women aged 55 to 75
These programs are free and participation is voluntary. You can find more information on https://www.bevolkingsonderzoeknederland.nl/en/