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Medical insurance

A new Dutch health insurance system was brought in on January 1st 2006.  Since then health insurance in the Netherlands has been mandatory and is designed to cover the cost of medical care.  Most expats will need to have a Dutch health insurance policy even if they are still insured at home.  Everyone over the age of 18 will need their own policy, with children under the age of 18 normally being insured as part of their parent’s policy. Insurers have to offer a basic package (basisverzekering) for everyone over the age of 18 regardless of age, sex or medical history and they are unable to refuse applications or charge higher rates based on this information.

A basic insurance package covers the costs of common medical care but can vary slightly depending on the insurer.  It will cover such things as GP consultations, treatment by specialists and hospital care, some medication, maternity care, some mental health care, dental care for the under 18’s and certain therapy services, such as dieticians, physiotherapists and speech therapy.

Payment for Dutch healthcare is paid in part by employers, in part from salary deductions (to a maximum €33,363 pa) and in part from monthly contributions paid to your health insurer – currently around €100 per month.  Insurance policies also have an excess, which means you have to pay the first €350 for some treatments (GP services and maternity care and not included in this excess).  Online comparison sites can help you compare packages and costs from different insurers eg. www.independer.nl

Once insured you must present your insurance card when you register to use any health service.  Depending on your policy and the treatment being received, the health provider and insurer will normally sort the bill  out between themselves.  However, for some treatments you will be required to pay the health provider direct and then present your insurer with the bill for reimbursement.

Some of the more well-known insurance companies in Holland are:

Aegon www.aegon.nl

Agis Zorgverzekering www.agisweb.nl

CZ www.cz.nl

DSW Sorgerzekeraar www.dsw.nl

Menzis www.menzis.nl

ONVZ www.onvz.nl

Unive www.unive.nl

VGZ www.vgz.nl

Zilveren Kruis Achmea www.zilverenkruis.nl

More information on various health care topics, including how the Dutch Health Insurance system works and health insurance for expats abroad can be found via the Zorgverzekering Informatie Centrum. www.zorgverzekering.org/eng 

Emergency numbers

In case of an accident or emergency, the Dutch (and Europe wide) emergency number is 112. You will be asked if you need the police, fire brigade or ambulance. In most cases you will be able to speak in English, even though the call will be answered in Dutch.

Emergency assistance can also be provided by most hospitals 24 hours a day. 

Most GP’s will also have an emergency (spoed) line that you can ring for emergency assistance and an out of hours (Huisartsenpost) service that you can access at nights and weekends.

For other general questions not covered here and relating to health and health care, you can contact the GGD Rotterdam-Rijnmond - www.ggd.rotterdam.nl  which works to provide accessible healthcare to everyone.

Contact address - Schiedamseweg 95, Rotterdam

Postal - PO Box 70032, 3000LP, Rotterdam

Phone - (010) 433 9933 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm)

Email: ggdrotterdamrijnmond@rotterdam.nl

Finding a Doctor

General Practitioners (Huisarts in Dutch), are the first point of medical contact and gatekeeper to all other types of medical treatment in the Netherlands. For the most part, a referral is required from a GP before you can see a hospital specialist.  To make an appointment with your Huisarts you will first need to speak to the Doctor’s assistant.  Unlike a receptionist, they have some medical training and will assess your symptoms over the phone before making an appointment with the Dr.  Often for more minor problems, such as cold or flu like symptoms, they will give you advice over the telephone rather than making an appointment with the Doctor.  The Doctor’s assistant will also carry out minor medical procedures such as taking blood pressure, ear syringing and smear tests. 

You can also contact the doctor, during something called a "spreekuur", which means consultation hour. The spreekuur can be a consultation with the Doctor over the telephone or a walk in consultation at the surgery. When registering with a practice, ask when the telephone spreekuur is, they are particularly useful for advice with minor problems.  However, be prepared that at sometimes it may be difficult to get through. Some huisarts also have time set aside first thing in the morning before appointments, where you can drop in for consultation without an appointment.  This is called an ‘inloopspreekuur‘ and is also designed to deal with minor complaints without the need for a proper appointment.

To find a doctor, you can look in the yellow pages under "artsen" or "huisartsen" for a list of practices by postcode (in Rotterdam the suburbs themselves are not listed).  Doctor’s practices can also be found in the Gemeentegids (a local community guide) usually available from the Townhall or on the internet.  It is often helpful if someone living in your area or someone your are working with can personally recommend someone in your area, or you could ring the Centrale Dokterdienst helpline on 020 592 3434 to find a huisarts local to you.

If you are not yet registered with a Doctor and have a medical emergency, you can call the Rotterdam doctor hotline on 010 420 1100.

If you require vaccinations for travel, you can call the GGD Travel Clinic (Havenziekenhuis) Haringvliet 72, 3011 TG Rotterdam.  Telephone: 0900 503 4090  Email: travelclinic@havenziekenuis.nl

Hospital Specialist care

You cannot go directly to a specialist for treatment. Specialist care can usually only be obtained with a referral letter from your Huisarts, known in Dutch as a ‘verwijsbrief’. Using this letter you will then be able to make your own appointment with the specialist at the hospital recommended by your huisarts. The contact details for the main Rotterdam hospitals can be found below.

Rotterdam Hospitals

Erasmus MC www.erasmusmc.nl

’s-Gravendijkwal 230, 3015 CE Rotterdam

Telephone: 010 704 0704

Email: info@erasmusmc.nl

Erasmus MC - Sophia Childrens Hospital www.erasmusmc.nl

Wytemaweg 80, 3015CN Rotterdam

Telephone: 010 704 0704

Email: info@erasmusmc.nl

Havenziekenhuis www.havenziekenhuis.nl

Haringvliet 2, 3011 TD Rotterdam centrum

Telephone: 010 404 3300

Email: informatie@havenziekenhuis.nl

Ijsselland Ziekenhuis www.ysl.nl

Prins Constantijnweg 2, 2906 ZC Capelle a/d Ijssel

Telephone: 010 258 5000

Ikazia Ziekenhuis  www.ikazia.nl

Montessoriweg 1, 3083AN Rotterdam

Telephone: 010 297 5000

Email: psb@ikazia.nl

Maasstad Ziekenhuiswww.maasstadziekenhuis.nl

Maasstadweg 21, 3079 Rotterdam

Telephone: 010 291 1911

Email: info@maasstadziekenhuis.nl

Oogziekenhuis www.oogziekenhuis.nl

Schiedamse Vest 180, 3011 BH Rotterdam

 Telephone: 010 401 7777

Sint Franciscus Gasthuis www.sfg.nl

Kleiweg 500, 3045PM Rotterdam

Telephone: 010 461 6161

Pharmacies & filling prescriptions

Pharmacies called "Apotheek" in Dutch, issue prescriptions and sell some over the counter medicines. Your doctor will usually send your prescription to your chosen pharmacy electronically, ready for you to pick up.  There will always be an Apotheek open 24 hours a day somewhere in your neighbourhood.  The list of 24 hour apotheken are usually displayed in the Apotheek window, listed in local papers or you can find your nearest 24 hour chemist by calling 020 694 8709.  You can buy non-prescription medications, such as cough mixture and pain killers, at the Apotheek, but also at drugstores (drogists) such as Etos and Kruidvat.  These drugstores however, do not issue prescription medication. Herbal medications and therapies can be found at health food stores, such as De Tuinen.

Finding a Dentist

You will need to register with a dentist (tandarts) in the same way as you would register with a doctor.  You can find a Dentisit in the same way as finding a doctor, using the internet, the yellow pages, local community guide or through personal recommendations.  Once registered, you will normally have a 6 monthly check-up and further work as required.  For out of hours problems, call your dentist whose answerphone will normally direct you to an emergency service.  If you have an emergency and are not registered with a dentist, then you can call the Rotterdam Dentist hotline on 010 455 2155.


Since 2006, a referral from the huisarts is no longer needed to go to the physiotherapist or fysiotherapeut.  However, a referral or reference from the huisarts is recommended if going to the physical therapist for the first time.  This is because this verwijsbriefje or referral will help when trying to make a claim for treatment with your insurance company.  Many insurance policies have a limit as to how many times they will pay for a patient to visit the physiotherapist – e.g. a basic policy may allow for 6 treatments at 20 euros a piece. More information can be found at www.fysiotherapie.nl   (In Dutch)

Mental Health

Mental Health problems should normally be first discussed with your GP, who can then refer a patient on for more specialised treatment.  There are many good English speaking counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists or alternative therapists available in the Netherlands.  However, not all the costs for these therapies will be covered by your Health insurance policy – it is therefore sensible to check with your provider as to what will be covered before continuing with a course of treatment.

Alternative therapies

A wide range of alternative therapies are available in Holland including homeopathy, acupuncture, osteopathy and chiropractors. Most insurance companies have plans that will include osteopathy as part of their coverage.  More information about alternative therapies can be found at the Association of alternative therapy website www.infolijn-alternatieve-geneeswijzen.nl