Navigating a new healthcare system may seem confusing and overwhelming, but we’re here to teach you the basics. 


If you live and work in the Netherlands, you have to enroll in a Dutch health insurance plan. The basic insurance package (basisverzekering) covers all the necessary care, such as your general practitioner (huisarts), specialists, midwives, dental care for children, most medications and nursing care.

There are almost 40 healthcare insurance providers that offer the basic plan, so it’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple insurers before you choose a plan. Zorgwijzer can help you compare providers and decide which one suits your needs best.

If you want to expand your insurance package beyond the basic one, make sure you compare several providers, as each insurance company offers slightly different supplemental coverage options.

Before choosing a provider, consult your employer. They might offer Corporate Healthcare Insurance.

Are you an international student? As a student, you have to carry basic Dutch health insurance if you decide to have a side job. This also applies to EU students who have a European Health Insurance Card. Make sure to sort that out before you start working, otherwise you’ll be subject to fines.

If the health insurance makes a big dent in your budget, you can apply for healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag) to help you cover the monthly payment. You will qualify for zorgtoeslag if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are 18 years old or older;
  • You have Dutch health insurance;
  • You have an EU nationality, valid residence permit or work permit;
  • You earn below a certain amount. This amount changes every year, so make sure you check what applies at the time of application on the website of the Tax Authority (Belastingdienst).

You can submit your application for zorgtoeslag using your DigiD here.


The Netherlands has a so-called “gatekeeper system” when it comes to accessing healthcare providers. This means that you need a referral from your General Practitioner (huisarts) in order to consult a specialist.  

So the first step in accessing healthcare is registering with a General Practitioner.  

It is recommended to choose a GP close to your home. Your GP is the first stop to receive medical treatment or to get a referral for an appointment with a specialist. Visiting a specialist without a referral note might result in your health insurance provider refusing to reimburse your expenses. 

If you are looking for reviews from other patients, Zorgkaart Nederland (Dutch only) is the largest website for people to share their experience with Dutch healthcare providers. The website also provides information to help you choose a healthcare provider that best suits your needs


If you need medical aid outside the regular hours and on public holidays, you can contact the central huisartsen post of West Brabant (after hours clinic). You can call 076-52 58 500. For more information, click here.  

For emergencies, dial 112. 

To get comprehensive information in English about the Dutch healthcare system, visit Healthcare for Internationals here or download this H41brochure.