Health insurance for international students in The Netherlands

If you are planning to start a study, internship or traineeship in the Netherlands, it is recommended to find out how and what medical costs are covered during your stay and whether or not you need to enrol for a Dutch Healthcare Insurance. This is very important because medical costs in the Netherlands are well above average.

Therefore, this article was written to provide students from abroad with detailed information on Dutch healthcare insurance and to point out when it is obligatory to get a Dutch healthcare insurance. Moreover, the article discusses the steps needed to ensure proper medical coverage in the Netherlands.

When are you required to get a Dutch healthcare insurance?

There are a few cases in which a Dutch healthcare insurance is obligatory for foreign students or interns:

  • When you study in the Netherlands, but also have a part-time job or paid internship (note: a zero-hour (casual) contract will count as a job)

In other cases, you can keep your home country insurance or get a private insurance that covers medical care in The Netherlands. Please refer to the chart below to find out for yourself if you need a Dutch healthcare insurance, if you can keep your home country healthcare insurance or if you need to get private healthcare insurance.

Health insurance Netherlands students

When can you use the EHIC and use your home country insurance?

EU-, EEA-countries and Switzerland have agreements and treaties with The Netherlands about medical coverage. That is why students from within the EU can often keep their home country insurance. However, it is important to make sure that your home country insurance covers the necessary medical care in the Netherlands and that they can issue a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to you. This EHIC gives you (in theory) the same right to necessary medical care as other Dutch residents that have a basic Dutch health insurance (zorgverzekering). More information on the EHIC can be found on this page.

Limitations

Some national health insurers in EU-countries will only cover the costs of your healthcare in another country for a limited time; this is often the case for mature students (older than 28 or 30) and workers on training abroad. If this is the case for you, you will need to register for a health insurance in The Netherlands or to take out private health insurance.

Moreover, most national health insurers only cover up to health tariffs applicable in your home country. Hence, it is highly recommended to check whether your home country insurance provides full health cover in the Netherlands during your entire stay. Otherwise, it may be required to arrange extra (private) insurance cover or opt for Dutch health insurance if you are eligible.

Insurance status

If you have any doubts about your insurance status and want to make sure where you stand, for example, when you are from the EU/EER and staying longer than one year in The Netherlands. You can contact the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) via this page. You can also contact the governmental health insurance number through: +31 88 900 6960.

When do you need private health insurance?

When you are not from the EU/EEA or Switzerland and if you are planning to study for more than three months in The Netherlands, you are required to apply for a non-EU/EEA resident’s permit upon arrival. After obtaining the residence permit, you are obligated to take Dutch Health insurance. In the mean time, you can refer to private health insurance as described in the paragraph below.

If you are not from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you will have to verify with your current healthcare insurer whether they cover medical costs made in The Netherlands. If not, it is highly recommended to get a private health insurance that covers the most essential medical care in The Netherlands. There are several private health insurers that offer special international healthcare insurances for foreigners that are going to study in The Netherlands, for example Allianz, Aon and IPS. Refer to their websites for more detailed information.

What steps are necessary to get a basic Dutch healthcare insurance?

In order to obtain a Dutch healthcare insurance you need to complete several steps:

Please note that this is only applicable to non-EU/EEA students.  

  1. Obtain a residents permit at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). In order to apply for such a permit you need the following documents: a legal and certified copy of your birth certificate, document(s) that prove you have a permanent place to live in The Netherlands and a legal and valid passport.
  2. After successful registration at the IND you can go to the local town hall (in the city you are residing) and register yourself as a new inhabitant. You will then receive a citizen service number.
  3. With this number, you can compare and select your own basic Dutch healthcare insurance and if desired, any supplementary health cover packages. Here is an overview of all Dutch healthcare insurers.

What medical costs are covered?

The basic Dutch health insurance covers essential health care, such as visits and treatments by a general practitioner, pharmaceuticals and hospital treatments. All Dutch healthcare insurance companies must offer at least the basic health care cover package (basisverzekering). This is stipulated in Dutch health laws. This basic package contains most medical coverages required:

  • Visits and treatment by a general practitioner
  • Pharmaceuticals (with reference from a physician/general practitioner)
  • Medical care, operations and other treatments performed by doctors and physicians, such as cardiologists, dermatologists, surgeons, etc.
  • Certain medical aids
  • Dental care (until the age of 18)
  • Physiotherapy for people with certain chronic diseases
  • Psychological health care (with reference from a physician)
  • Hospital care
  • Pregnancy- and birth care (maternity and obstetric care)
  • Emergency transport by ambulance
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech-language pathology
  • Dietary advice
  • Special health care programs and population medical research
  • Emergency medical treatment abroad, according to Dutch standards

Each of the above items will have their requirements and possible limitations regarding financial compensation. Sometimes the basic cover does not suffice, for example, for:

  • Dental care
  • Physiotherapy
  • Alternative Healing
  • Optical eye care
  • Orthodontics

If you need these types of healthcare you may refer to private supplemental insurance packages.

Financial benefit (zorgtoeslag)

International students with a Dutch health insurance are usually eligible for a financial benefit/allowance (called ‘zorgtoeslag’ in Dutch) that can go up to 88 euros a month. This is amount is provided to help lower income groups pay their healthcare expenses, such as the health insurance premium and the mandatory excess (385 euro). There are several requirements to be met in order to be eligible:

  • You are 18 years or older
  • You have a Dutch health insurance
  • You have a Dutch citizen number (BSN)
  • Your salary is below 27.857 euro (2017)

You can apply for the zorgtoeslag-benefit through the website of the Dutch tax authorities.

Choosing a basic Dutch healthcare insurance

Although, the content of the basis Dutch healthcare insurance is the same with every insurer, the monthly fee, service, excess (deductible) and available choice of health care providers can vary depending on the chosen health insurance company and policy. Hence, it is recommended to compare Dutch healthcare insurance companies on their monthly fee and policy. Ask a Dutch-speaking friend or colleague to assist you.

If you fail to get a basic Dutch health insurance in time while this is obligatory, you may risk a penalty from the government. If you are unsure about your current healthcare situation, contact the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (Social security institute).

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