Health insurance in The Netherlands : the trap for the inexperienced expat

Living as an expat in The Netherlands comes with a lot of advantage. Health care and health insurance are not one of them. Or maybe I am just being too French about it.

Anyway, if you are an expat in The Netherlands, or planning on moving here, there’s one thing you need to know : health insurance is mandatory, and it is not cheap. Don’t worry though, depending on your situation you can get some money back. Let me explain.

In The Netherlands, on top of paying taxes on you salary, you also need to pay a personal health insurance, and this is not an option. I have experienced health care system in three countries and, really, I find the Dutch way the hardest to understand (maybe because all documentation is in Dutch…).

It is only by leaving the country that I realized what an awesome health care system France has, and how privileged French people are compared to other Europeans when it comes to medical services. Especially after living for three years in England.

But I’m losing track. The health insurance system in The Netherlands for an expat can be tricky to understand.

 The health insurance in The Netherlands is mandatory

Don’t try to be smart about it : once you moved in the country and you have registered with the town hall, you have to register for a health insurance. If you don’t do it straight away and hope that you will simply get away with it, you are wrong.

The day you finally decide to register, they will make you pay back for everything you did not pay in the months/years you have been living here without a health insurance. That can be a pretty salty fine ! They will simply look at the date at which you registered in the country for the first time.

I myself had to pay a fine because I waited for one month before registering. I did not wait because I was trying to avoid it, but because I didn’t get how it worked, and where I was supposed to register. Pretty dumb mistake, but one that’s easy to make for a new expat !

 You have to pick your health insurance yourself

When you arrive in the country, or when it is time to change (December of each year), you can simply compare the different insurance companies and pick the package that suits your needs best.

If you do not speak Dutch, that can be a bit tricky. You will have to translate everything because all documentation comes in Dutch (although some insurance companies have a website with one page in english explaining why they are the best).

You can do so by using this website for example.

Health insurance packages in The Netherlands

There are many different insurance packages out there.

The basic one is the cheapest one (between 70 and 90 euros), but even then the price you pay monthly will depend on the « own risk » amount you are willing to take. Basically, the higher your own risk is, the cheapest will your insurance be.

But that means that, if something happens to you and you have to go to the hospital or see a specialist (physiotherapist for example), then the amount of your own risk will come out of your own pocket. The minimum is 385 euros, but you can go up to 885 euros if you wish to risk it.

The basic package covers, well, the basics : you can go to the doctor (GP) for free. The rest will depend on the insurance company you choose, so compare them carefully.

Other packages will include specialists, number of times you can see a specialist without having to pay yourself (3 times with a dentist for example) etc.

Just remember : no matter the option you choose and the package, the first 385 euros will always be at your own risk.

Getting money back for your health insurance

Depending on your earnings, and the insurance package you chose, you may be entitled to a partial refund from the health care insurance. You can apply for it via the belastingdienst.

You could for example get 75 euros back from a basic health insurance package that costs 93 euros per month. But that really depends on one’s situation.

One thought on “Health insurance in The Netherlands : the trap for the inexperienced expat

  1. Netherlands tax return says:

    Thanks for sharing your opinion on the health care matter in the Netherlands! Especially because you are able to compare our system to that from other European countries. As a Dutchie, I have nothing to compare it with and so I’ve just accepted it haha.
    At least you guys – talking about expats in general haha – get to use the 30% ruling when filing for taxes :)!

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