When moving to the Netherlands with your family, there are many new aspects of day-to-day life to familiarise yourself with. Because healthcare is one of the most important, this guide provides you with useful information on the services available to you and your family.
The Netherlands has a very high standard of healthcare, ranking top of the Euro Health Consumer Index 2016 with a record-breaking score of 927 out of 1000. What’s more, the country has consistently ranked within the top three places of any European Index since 2005 according to the Health Consumer Powerhouse. The availability of doctors is also impressive, scoring better than the EU average of 3.6, with roughly 3.4 doctors per 1,000 citizens.
Before moving here, families should be aware that purchasing Dutch health insurance is a mandatory requirement of residents and expats. You must have this in place before you can access the country’s healthcare system.
Healthcare in the Netherlands is typically divided into three sections:
- Basic and essential medical carefor covering GP appointments, specialist procedures and short hospital stays.
- Long-term medical carefor covering chronic conditions.
- Supplementary carefor covering dental care, physiotherapy and cosmetic surgery.
Children under the age of 18 are usually covered for dental work under the basic Dutch policy. Otherwise, supplementary care is not usually covered by basic health insurance policies, so you may find yourself paying out of pocket fees. To ensure your whole family is covered, it can be a sensible option to take out international health insurance.
How to access services
Once you have your health insurance plans in place, it is important to register with your nearest doctor or general practitioner, preferably before you require their services as the waiting lists can be long. After you’ve registered with a practice, this will become your primary contact if you have any non-emergency health concerns. Family doctors can refer you to the other services including specialists, home midwifery, physiotherapy or a hospital.
It is possible to choose a specific doctor providing they are not fully booked, and it’s often a good idea to arrange an appointment to see if they would be suitable before committing. Alternatively, you can find a list of local doctors in a variety of ways, including flicking through The Yellow Pages (‘Gouden Gids’) phone book and looking under ‘Artsen – huisartsen’.
Luckily, many doctors and general practitioners speak English, which helps with communication when it comes to explaining your needs.
A useful number to note down is 035 6928222, which is the central doctor’s service. It is available for any urgent advice if your GP is shut and a member of your family is in need (even on public holidays).
What to do in an emergency
Should you or anyone around you find themselves in a life-threatening medical situation, dialling 122 will get you through to the ambulance service, free of charge. If you need to instruct someone to call an ambulance ‘bel een ambulance’ or alternatively, if you’re able to take a taxi, ask for the ‘spoedeisende hulp’ to be taken to the nearest emergency facilities. If you have a speech or hearing impairment, dial 0800 8112 and type your message, stating where you are and the service you require.
If you or your family require hospital care, you’ll be relieved to know that the standard in the Netherlands are high-quality, ranking 17th on the World Health Organisation’s efficiency list.
Here are a few things to know before you relocate with your family:
- You’ll receive a registration card (‘ponsplaatje’) to show on your visits. This allows administrators to easily find your details and be able to pass any bills on to your insurer.
- You may end up in a mixed gender ward or shared room. If you’d prefer a private room, then private insurance would be the way to go.
- A TV and phone will probably be available for use, but at a charge.
- Dutch hospitals enforce visiting hours, like others, but these times vary between hospitals.
There are two types of pharmacies in the Netherlands: ‘drogist’ and ‘apotheek’. The first sells non-prescription medication along with toiletries and cosmetics, also useful if you require any baby products.
But if you need to pick up a prescription following a doctor’s appointment, then you should head to an apotheek. These pharmacies sell over the counter medicine and prescription drugs, and are also useful in advising on minor ailments. You should be aware that some non-prescription medication taken in your home country may require a prescription in the Netherlands.
To find your nearest 24-hour pharmacy you can call 020 694 8709 or look in the free local newspaper under ‘medische diensten’ (medical assistance).
While living abroad in the Netherlands, there are many aspects of Dutch life to enjoy with the whole family. Just make sure you take out the correct type of insurance so you can be safe in the knowledge that experts are on hand should you ever need medical assistance.