Dutch Language Blog

Dutch Words that are Good for Your Health Posted by on Aug 11, 2013 in Dutch Vocabulary

Eva Blue / Flickr Creative Commons

Eva Blue / Flickr Creative Commons

There’s a saying in Dutch, “gezondheid is de grootste schat.” Health is the greatest treasure.

But, sometimes, despite our best efforts, poor health swoops in to rain on our parade.

While most Dutch people speak excellent English, it’s always nice to know the lingo. When it comes to your health and well-being, you want to be well-informed and in control.

So here’s an introduction to the healthcare system in the Netherlands and what you need to know to help you navigate it.

Health Insurance

If you are working and paying taxes in the Netherlands, you must be covered by health insurance. No ifs, ands, or buts.

It’s up to you which insurance policy you go with and what policy you take out. You can also switch policies or insurance companies at any time.

Basic insurance packages cover appointments with the general practitioner (GP), visits to specialists, hospital care, maternity care, medication, and full coverage for children up to the age of 18.

There’s also a social insurance, covered by tax money, called Algemene Wet Bijzondere Ziektekosten (AWBZ) or the National Act on Exceptional Medical Expenses. This insurance is available to anyone living and/or working the the Netherlands. It covers everything not included in your regular insurance, such as hospitalization, disability, nursing home care, and long-term treatments and home care.


Feeling a Bit Under the Weather?

Your first stop is your general practitioner (huisarts). Either your huisarts or one of the assistants will see you and decide what to do next.

If a prescription’s involved, you’ll head on over to the pharmacist (apotheek) for your medications and refills.

Should your huisarts deem that a specialist’s care is needed, he or she will write you a referral.

Specialists are typically located within hostpitals. Some physiotherapists (fysioterapeuten) have their own offices or be located in a huisartsenpost (doctor’s office).


Quick! Call 911!

Or rather, DON’T!

The emergency number for the Netherlands is 112.

Should there be an accidents or emergency, Eerst Hulp Bij Ongeluk (EHBO), also called Spoedeisende Hulp (SEH), or Emergency Room in English.


What Does It All Mean?

Here are some Dutch words you’ll need to take care of your greatest treasure:

accident – ongeluk
ambulance – ambulance
anesthesia – anesthesie
anesthesiologist – anesthesioloog
appointment – afspraak
blood pressure – bloeddruk
blood test – bloedonderzoek
dentist – tandarts
delivery of a baby – bevalling
doctor – huisarts
emergency room – eerste hulp
first aid – eerste hulp bij ongelukken
health – gezondheid
healthcare – gezondheidszorg
health insurance – zorgverzekering
health insurer – zorgverzekeraar
hospital – ziekenhuis
medicine – medicijn
midwife – verloskundige
nurse – verpleegkundige
out-patient hospital delivery – poliklinische bevalling
patient – patiënt
pharmacy – apotheek
prescription – recept

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About the Author: tiffany

Tiffany Jansen is an American magazine and copywriter in the Netherlands.


  1. Lona Hegeman:

    Apoteek is a a PHARMACY (not a pharmacist)

    • tiffany:

      @Lona Hegeman Thanks for catching that 🙂 I think you forgot the ‘h’ in apotheek though

  2. Anda:

    Again a small mistake, you cannot switch insurrance whenever you want, it’s only possible once a year.

  3. Tim:

    Huisart is also doktor or arts, says my Dutch girlfriend. Huisart for family doctor.

  4. Anda:

    And you’re right about the number 112, but if you dial 911 you also get connected trough with 112.

  5. Keppa:

    @Anda- You’ve forgotten an “H” again, dear. *Through.