Dutch Language Blog

Health Insurance in the Netherlands – Choices! Choices! Choices! Posted by on Nov 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

It is that lovely time of the year when Dutch insurances or zorgverzekeraars publish their prices for the next year and we are all faced with the decision to change or not to change providers. So what do the Dutch have to choose and who decides what is insured and what isn’t?

Photo taken by Paul Townley found on Flickr.com with license Public Domain Mark 1.0

De Wet

First and foremost, I would like to point out that everyone has to have zorgverzekering or health insurance in the Netherlands. Children under 18 are covered under their parents’ insurance, and people from low incomes can request assistance or zorgtoeslag. However, the rule is EVERYONE has to be insured. If you are not, you get a very nice letter from the government “reminding” you, perhaps a fine here and there, and, once you are insured, the insurance will charge you for the time you were not insured…because the law is everyone must be insured.

Het basispakket

The government or the overheid decide what is covered in the basispakket or the basic package. Each year, the politicians in The Hague debate and negotiate what insurances will be required to provide in the basic package, the limit in the eigen risico or the deductible, and the limit of the zorgtoeslag. All insurance companies are required to insure anyone that asks regardless of preconditions.

The basispakket for 2019 will include the same things as last year including regular checkups, medication, emergency treatments, childbirth, and post-partum care. This means that when you are sick and need to visit the huisarts, you just go and they bill your insurance company directly. The same for some of the medication you might get at an apotheek. 

There are a few things not covered by the basic package. Dental is not included and requires an aanvullend pakket depending on how much you would like to have insured. For childbirth, a hospital birth is not covered by the basic package unless there is a medical need for it. There is an additional package that includes the hospital, more coverage for kraamzorg, and lactation help. Fysiotherapie is another additional coverage.

For 2019, the basic package will also include help for those people who need to lose weight. There are some regulations about who can apply for this, for one, your doctor must see that there is a clear health risk.

How do you choose?

Insurance companies have to publish their prices for the next year by November 12. People have until January 1st to cancel their current insurance and until February 1st to arrange a new one. If you do nothing, you will stay with your current one.  Fortunately, there are several websites that let you compare coverage depending on your age and your preference for eigen risico and any additional coverage you might want.

According to the comparison website Zorgwijzer, for 2019, the cheapest coverage is of €79,95 per month and the most expensive €114,15 per month (about $90.21 and $128.79 USD, respectively). This makes the need to compare even higher because not checking can cost you a couple of hundred euros more per year.

According to the video below, Six out of ten people do not change companies, and that can hurt you. The video below by RTL Z tells you more.

What about Belgium?

In Flanders or the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, they have a similar system as in the Netherlands. People are required to have basic insurance, with the exception of Brussels. One difference between the two regions is that in Flanders, you have to pay a consult up front and then request reimbursement whereas in the Netherlands, you pay nothing up front and if there is anything you had to cover, you get a bill later on. The video below explains more about health insurance in Flanders.


What do you think about the Dutch and Flanders health insurance systems? How is it different from your country?

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


  1. Pete:

    I thought health care was free in the Netherlands. On American news shows they always say how great the coverage is in Europe and how that’s what we need in the US. But here you say it’s 80 euros or more per month, plus maybe a deductible.

    Of course FREE never really is free, I guess, and would be funded somehow, for example, taxes, employers, or individuals. But here it sounds like what you’re saying is that individuals are responsible for their health insurance, and not taxpayers, is that right?

    The other thing I don’t like is that health care is required. This is the same thing that Obama tried to implement and which the Republicans are trying to change. Anyway, it seems to me that people should be able to be uninsured if that’s what they want.

    I’m not sure if I’m confusing universal health care with taxpayer funded health care. I guess universal is what they’re talking about when they say the European system is so good, because in reality the health care in the Netherlands is individually funded.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.


    • Karoly G Molina:

      @Pete Hi Pete, health insurance varies per country. I believe that in the UK, for example, it is “free” in the sense that you do not pay your monthly bill, but of course, this is taken from taxpayers money. In the Netherlands, it is a requirement to fund it yourself and the government ensures that this is affordable by capping the deductible and keeping a basic package that only covers the essentials. There are government-funded programs for people who need more long-term care such as disability and long-term stay at a hospital, but the regular health care like going to the doctor and getting prescription medication is self-paid with government oversight. The government does provide with assistance for those with fewer means to cover their health insurance ensuring everyone stays covered.

      Each country in Europe has their own rules and controls, but it is my understanding that the majority of the countries ensure everyone can obtain basic health care. The argument is that this can prevent more serious illnesses and therefore reduce costs and risks long-term. I grew up in the U.S. and this European model is certainly very different.