In the Netherlands everyone must have insurance for their medical needs. This is an area that can be very confusing and hard to understand for many, as there are different requirements for different situations and circumstances. Trying to understand whether or not you need health insurance, and if so, which package you need, is one of the most complicated parts about moving to the Netherlands.
You will need to take out a Dutch public healthcare insurance policy (known as zorgverzekering), regardless of whether or not you are an EU/EEA citizen, as you are now legally considered an employee as well as a student. The basic insurance package (basisverzekering) covers your general medical needs, such as visits to the doctor and hospital and prescription medicine, but for further needs like accident and liability insurance, you will need additional policies. Insurance companies have an obligation to accept everyone, regardless of your state of health, gender, and age. It is very important that you make sure you are properly insured, because if you do not have insurance you are at risk of paying some very hefty fines!
The healthcare policy typically cost around €100 a month, but there is a very good chance that you will be eligible to claim some of these costs back through the health insurance welfare provided by the Dutch government. This welfare is called zorgtoeslag and you can read more information about it in our government aid section.
Luckily, your domestic health insurance policy (or public provider such as the NHS in the UK) is able to be extended to your stay in the Netherlands as long as your stay is temporary. To make this happen, you will need to be issued with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) by your domestic insurer. This card will mean that your healthcare costs are paid for domestically. Your domestic insurance provider determines what a ‘temporary stay’ is, and therefore what you are entitled to.
If you are an EU/EEA citizen, or possibly a citizen of a country that has a healthcare treaty with the Netherlands, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a very useful and necessary thing to have. It allows you to be able to receive the same public healthcare as a resident in all EEA countries (including Switzerland), either for free, or for a reduced cost. However, it is important to note that the EHIC is NOT a replacement for travel insurance. The EHIC:
More information on the EHIC is available on the website of the European Commission.
In most other cases, you will need to take out a new Dutch insurance policy while you are staying in the Netherlands.
However, The Netherlands also has insurance treaties with a number of non-EU countries, which means your domestic coverage can be extended through the use of the EHIC card as if you were an EU/EEA citizen.
Bilateral social security treaties with a relevant healthcare provision
are signed between the Netherlands and the following countries:
Also bilateral social security treaties have been signed with the
following countries, however these do not include a relevant
Nuffic have created a very helpful flowchart which can help make these choices more clear. Note the difference between Dutch public health insurance and private health insurance. In many cases, such as the exemptions above, if you need private health insurance, your own domestic health insurance arrangements will be adequate for you: Download the factsheet 'Healthcare insurance for international students in the Netherlands' (PDF warning)
You can compare health insurance providers at a number of websites, three of the more popular being Independer, Zorgkiezer and Kiesbeter. Unfortunately, these websites are only in Dutch but we're working on providing you with English information about how to use them. Keep in mind that you can apply to get a rebate from the Dutch government for your insurance costs. Go to the Belastingdienst (tax office) website to apply. You can find English instructions for this in our government aid section.
A great source in English to use for more information about the Dutch health care system and insurance is Zorgverzekering.org. They can provide you with a lot of useful information to help you familiarise yourself with Dutch health insurance and more!
The Ministry of Health has provided an English language leaflet that provides more information on the healthcare insurance system. While it is aimed more for professionals coming to the Netherlands, it still contains a lot of handy information for the international student. Feel free to download the Ministry of Health's English brochure (PDF warning).
These guides are never finished.
Want to help?