How To Register With The Dutch Healthcare System
The basic healthcare system in the Netherlands is known as basisverzekering and is dually funded from tax contributions and fees levied by insurers.
Although the health system is run through private insurers, the government manages it and imposes certain rules and regulations on the industry. For example, health insurers are not allowed to turn anyone away, regardless of their medical history or whether they are currently employed.You must take out a Dutch health insurance policy even if you are already covered by a separate policy in your home country.
Who Needs Health Insurance In The Netherlands?
Health insurance is mandatory for everyone living in the Netherlands. However, the government does not always count students as residents, especially if they are only staying for a short period, so it is worth checking with the Sociale Verzekeringsbank to find out whether you fit the requirements for health insurance before you start to look for a policy. If you are only studying and not working at the same time, then you will not need to apply for health insurance.
Likewise, if you are working for a company based in your home country, and you have insurance through that company, then you will not need to apply for Dutch health insurance even if you are primarily resident in the Netherlands. However, you may be required to provide proof of your employment and residency status when you visit your GP.
Health Insurance Options In The Netherlands
There are four main types of cover in the Netherlands: zorgtoeslag, which is for those who are on very low incomes and who therefore require some of their monthly premiums to be covered by the state; Budgetpolis, the next-cheapest option which offers low premiums but does not cover a comprehensive range of options and is not accepted by all healthcare providers; Naturapolis, which is the most popular option since it is very comprehensive and provides good value for money; and Restitutiepolis, which offers the highest level of cover and reimburses 100% of expenses, but has the highest premiums.
Many insurers will offer Budgetpolis, Naturapolis and Restitutiepolis options, although some will only offer Naturapolis or Restitutiepolis; if you wish to claim zorgtoeslag then you will need to visit the Mijn Toeslagen website and fill in the required forms to confirm your eligibility.
Although insurers are required by law to accept everyone who applies for basic insurance, they are allowed to turn away applications for additional cover.
If you have children who are under the age of 18, they will need health insurance too, but you will not be required to pay the premiums for them. These are paid by the Health Insurance Fund, which in turn is funded by taxes.
When To Apply For Health Insurance
You can apply for health insurance as soon as you have registered at your local city hall, or as soon as you have received your residency permit if you are from outside of the EU. You must register for health insurance within four months of registering for residency in the Netherlands, otherwise you could be hit with a fine of up to €400.
If you are still uninsured despite receiving several warnings and two fines, the Central Administration Office (CAK) will register you with an insurer and the fees will be taken out of your pay cheque. If you are not working while you live in the Netherlands, the fees will be taken out of your benefits, if applicable; or you will receive a collection form each month demanding payment.
If the CAK claims that you have not taken out health insurance, but you have, then you will need to fill in an appeal form, or Indienen bezwaarschrift, and give the CAK all the details they need to show that you do have health insurance in place. If the error is genuine, then any fines they have levied will be removed.
How To Apply For Health Insurance
To apply for health insurance, simply take your citizen number (burgerservicenummer) to the local city hall, along with proof of identity and residence, and fill in the forms provided. Once you have registered for health insurance you will receive an insurance card in the post, and you must take this along with your ID card to any medical appointments.
If you wish to change your health insurance provider, you can do so, but only once per year. Once you have switched, the change will be in place from the following year. The medical year follows the calendar year, beginning on January 1st.
The Netherlands allows for people who have conscientious objections to health insurance: if you fall into this category, you can apply to the Social Insurance Bank for an exception.
If granted, this will mean that you do not have to take out any health insurance policy; instead, your healthcare fees will be taken from your taxes. Any remaining balance will be split up: some will roll over into the following year, and the rest (up to half of your contribution) will go to the Health Insurance Fund, which pays premiums for people who are unable to pay for themselves.
If you take out a health insurance policy after filling in a conscientious objection form, your form will be voided and you will be required to take out the same insurance as everybody else.
Registering With A Doctor
Once your health insurance policy is in place, you should register with a local GP. You can do this by visiting the surgery and filling in a form; you will also be required to show your ID card and your health insurance card when you register.
You might also need to register with your local pharmacy in order to pick up prescriptions. Regulations vary by area, so check with your doctor while you are registering there to see whether you need to visit the pharmacy as well.
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