The Dutch healthcare system is one of the best in the world and is supported by a compulsory health insurance system that was introduced in 2006. Suddenly, everyone had to pay around €100 per month simply to get the basic healthcare that they had long already been entitled to. This was mitigated somewhat by the ability to claim back some of the money (toeslag).
So if you are thinking about moving to Holland or have already decided that you are going to do it, then what should you do?
The full process as I went through it (including referring myself for continued hospital treatment) is covered in my book here: Move To Holland. Nevertheless, I can share with you some tips to get you started.
First you need to have a registered address at which you are living, a bank account and a BSN which is your social security number (formerly and commonly called a sofinummer). Beware if you are living “black” and are not registered with the council (gemeente). If you are not registered then you cannot get health insurance. I friends who have needed emergency medical treatment but were not registered and therefore not ensured and received a €4,000 bill to cover the cost of the ambulance being called out!
Some young and healthy people take the easier route of finding unregistered accommodation (especially in Amsterdam where there is a huge housing shortage) and therefore not bothering with health insurance. However, when they find that they like the country and eventually do get registered elsewhere, they are shocked when they are asked to first pay for all those years of not being insured before any insurance company will insure them against future medical events! If you have been in Holland for 3 years then this will cost you around €5,000! If you are older then I strongly advise you not to take any chances and to just do things properly, find accommodation where you can register and then take out health insurance as you should be doing anyway.
There are then several health insurance companies to choose from. There is not much to choose between them and most are competitive on price. If you read my book then I tell you about my preferred insurer because, unusually for Dutch companies, they will actually speak to you in English and even have someone call you back if there is no English-language speaker free at the time of your call.
Everything after that is pretty seamless. You get a card which I recommend carrying with you that shows your health insurance company and your membership number. You should present this when registering with any health organisation for the first time be it a hospital, a dentist’s surgery or your local doctor’s surgery.
The best part about the Dutch health insurance system is that you are not penalised for having existing medical conditions. The price is the same for everyone, regardless of your health status. And as mentioned, those on low incomes can even claim back a proportion of their insurance premiums.