The Local Healthcare Insurance System in the Netherlands

The healthcare system in the Netherlands is one of the best in the world. It used to be based on two types of medical insurance, one that is mandatory and one that is private and optional; however the private sector has been developing and is opening up to competition. 
Indeed, following the introduction of a major reform in 2006, Dutch citizens are now covered by a basic mandatory medical insurance which is administered by private insurers.
Nationals from member countries of the European Union must request a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from their health insurance fund at least two weeks before leaving. This card will allow you to have your medical care covered in public facilities.

Seeing a doctor in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the family doctor (or ‘huisarts’) is at the center of the healthcare system. If the patient requires specific medical care, their family doctor will refer them to a specialist and will follow-up with their treatment. Except in the event of an emergency, you will have to contact your treating doctor in order to receive medical care in a hospital. 

Being admitted to the hospital in the Netherlands

As in most countries of Western Europe, hospitals maintain quality equipment. Also, most doctors speak English. Hospitalization fees are free provided that you are able to show your treating doctor’s approval. If you don’t have this approval, you can show your EHIC in order to receive the reimbursement of your medical care. 
In order to be referred to the most appropriate medical facility for your medical needs, it is advised to use your health insurance plan’s medical network.

Buying medication in the Netherlands

There are two types of pharmacies in the Netherlands: one that only distributes prescription drugs (Apotheek) and one where over-the-counter drugs and pharmaceutical products are sold (Drogist). Pharmacies usually open from Monday to Saturday, between 9 a.m. and 5.30 p.m.

You may find medication under a different brand name than that available in your home country and it may also be more expensive, which is why it is recommended to bring a sufficient quantity of medication with you for the duration of your stay, in particular if you are under a specific treatment. 

In case of emergency

Medical emergencies: 112 (Important: you will be charged for using emergency medical services).