Hey epic expats!
Here we are again, another year is coming to an end. Sinterklaas is on his way back to Spain so you know what that means – Time to choose your health insurance for next year! We understand how overwhelming it can be to move from one country to another, so in this blog post, you’ll find golden nuggets of information all in one place to make your life easier and to guide you through everything you need to know.
In the process of moving to the Netherlands, gathering and submitting a mountain of paperwork and documents, you’re almost out of the woods, but not quite. Within four months of receiving your permanent residence permit and Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer), you must arrange your Dutch health insurance.
Do I really need Dutch health insurance?
Things are likely different here than they are back home. Perhaps in your home country, you either had the option to not have insurance or thought “If I get sick, then I will just go the General Practitioner (GP)”. Unfortunately, this is not possible in the Netherlands. Why not? You are legally required to have health insurance that is valid in the Netherlands. Should worse come to worst, you are likely to face consequences down the line.
If you do not sign up for Dutch health insurance within four months of receiving your permanent residence status, the government will have CAK send you a letter demanding that you sign up within three months. If you do not do so, then you can expect a fine of €426.24. If you still do not sign up for health insurance again within three months of your first fine, you will then be fined the same amount yet again. Consider yourself forewarned!
How do I know if I am eligible or not?
Let’s get to what makes you eligible for a Dutch health insurance as an expat.
If you are from the EU/EEA, you are eligible if you…
- Work part-time/pay income tax in the Netherlands
- And/or 30+ years old and your stay in the Netherlands is not temporary
If you are not from the EU/EEA, you are eligible if you have already been registered at city hall.
If you are not from the EU/EEA, you are not eligible on the following basis if you are…
- For the purpose of studying
- Working for an employer abroad
- Paying income tax in another country
- Still waiting on your permanent Dutch residence permit to get approved
In any other scenario, you will less likely be able to take out Dutch health insurance. For that, an expat insurance like ONVZ has you covered. Otherwise, if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you have access to necessary state-provided healthcare during temporary stay in 27 EU countries and Switzerland for the same cost as those insured in that country for only emergency or necessary treatments. Eventually your card must be replaced by a local provider of your choosing.
Expats who are coming to the Netherlands with their partner or family are suggested to insure all family members at the same time. It is more efficient to do this right away rather than adding family members at a later date. It is a longer and more difficult administration process. For those who are expecting a baby, you don’t have to worry. In the Netherlands, all children are automatically enrolled to get the same insurance as their parents until they reach the age of 18. It is free of change but parents must register their baby within four months of its birth.
Tip! Co-insure your child with the parent who has the more extensive healthcare package. In case the unexpected happens, you can be virtually positive your child will be covered.
How does health insurance work in the Netherlands?
Well, first, there are a few things you have to know about how it all works.
First, there are different types of insurance policies in the Netherlands
Before we can help you decide on choosing the best suitable insurance for you (and your family), it is good for you to know that there are two types of insurance policies (polisvoorwaarden):
- A restitution (restitutie) policy allows you to go to any healthcare provider you want. It gives you free choice of health care. The main drawback to it is that the monthly premium is more costly.
- An in-kind (natura) policy determines which health care providers you can go to. It depends on whether or not your health insurer has a contract with a specific health care provider. For instance, if you choose to go to a non-contracted hospital, then you need to pay a part of the medical costs yourself. Usually, it is approximately 30% of total costs. This insurance is relatively cheaper than the restitution insurance.
Next up: Premium and own-risk cost
A premium (premie) monthly cost is a fixed amount that is automatically deducted from your bank account.
An own-risk (eigen risico) cost is an annual amount you pay at your own expense for certain hospital treatments and prescription medication up until your health insurer takes care of the rest. Your own-risk cost starts at €385 and can go up to a maximum of €885 deductible excess based on which insurance you have. The health insurer reimburses you once you have fully paid your deductible excess. If you have no medical costs in a year, then you pay no own-risk cost. In a perfect world, that would be pretty freaking amazing, right?
Lastly: Basic and optional supplemental health insurance
Basic health insurance (basisverzekering) is mandatory and is the same package across all insurers as regulated by the government. This generally costs around €100 per month and covers GP consultations, prescription medication and treatments, healthcare provided by non-physician specialists, physiotherapy for people with chronic conditions, limited dental care for 18+, pregnancy/birth care and midwife services, maternity care and a lot more. For most services, you will need to pay your own risk in form of a deductible excess.
The Dutch government website shares an overview of contents included in a basic package.
Optional additional health insurance is useful if you expect to go through certain treatments or have a pre-existing condition. In Dutch, it is called aanvullende verzekering and, as mentioned, it is an optional package you can opt for in addition to your basic health insurance. It partially covers emergency healthcare abroad, vaccinations, contacts and glasses, dental care for 18+ and much more. You will notice health insurance providers offering competing policies to meet your additional needs.
So, then the question is: How do I choose the Dutch health insurance package that’s right for me?
You most likely would prefer an expat-friendly Dutch health insurance provider. There are only certain companies that have an English website and helpdesk, as many offer Dutch only. We will list out a few in a bit!
Comparing Dutch health insurance providers
When it comes to health insurance in the Netherlands, there is no “one size fits all”. It really differs per person. Do you anticipate any big changes coming up in your life or do you already know if you will require certain medical attention? For instance, if you are planning to become or are pregnant in the upcoming year then it is in your best interest to have an insurance provider who benefits you more in this area, especially concerning midwife care and aftercare. Depending on your insurer, they may or may not cover certain providers; you should check beforehand to see if a particular provider is covered by your health care plan.
For some of you, your priority might be more budget-conscious, weighing the costs and the benefits. For instance, you will have to investigate which insurance provider will cover your costs abroad when you travel abroad. You may also think it may be safe for you to have insurance that covers everything under the sun. For that, you will pay more each month.
Once you have anticipated what the upcoming year may bring and have set expectations, jot your list down and visit a website like Independer and Zorgwijzer that compares the various health insurance providers based on your requirements. You can compare in English using Zorgwijzer. Although, we love Independer because of their reliability, transparency and objectivity. (They also follow a Code of Conduct that was drawn up for comparing health insurances and have earned a quality label from Objectief Vergelijken).
Using Independer, it is simple to add in your basic information and it also takes into consideration if you want to co-insure your family members or not. If not, then you can jump straight to selecting your deductible excess amount starting at the standard €385. If you do select co-insuring family members such as your partner and/or child(ren), they will receive the same insurance as you. If your partner does not want the same insurance, then you can compare separately by deselecting this option.
Choosing an insurer based on your requirements
Let us give you a few examples of how an expat in the Netherlands would go about selecting a health insurance provider and package that is right for them. There are certain criteria to base your selection on other than the monthly cost and the deductible, such as customer service reviews, a user-friendly platform, and attractive add-ons.
Hugo and his partner Marta moved from Argentia to the Netherlands. They selected the same basic insurance package but also bought an add-on for traveling abroad since they expect to do quite some travelling in the upcoming year. Based on Independer’s analysis, Zilveren Kruis is the best fit for them. It is the cheapest option for basic insurance that includes worldwide travelers’ insurance. Sweetening the deal for them is that Zilveren Kruis offers customer service in English.
If Hugo should fall sick abroad and would have to buy prescription medication then he can submit his bills to Zilveren Kruis for reimbursement. (There is a caveat here: the prescription would have to also be covered by his Dutch health insurance).
Marta is a fitness freak who has been able to survive on basic health insurance for a long time but is planning to get pregnant next year. She has to find a health insurance provider with a suitable package that covers the costs of the services both pre- and post-delivery. Now she must reconsider being co-insured with Hugo and instead get her own separate insurance. After conducting another analysis on Independer, OHRA is the most suitable choice based on its price-quality ratio. OHRA’s website is not entirely in English, but a portion of it is. Similarly, many providers who have Dutch websites do provide certain information such as terms and conditions, reimbursements, and package explanations in an English document. Often times, their Dutch helpdesk is more than proficient in speaking English.
Expat-friendly health insurance providers with an English-language option on their website and helpdesk:
Other Dutch health insurance providers are:
Expats who move around a lot prefer to have premiums that have them covered in multiple countries. This is possible with international health insurance providers, who also provide English services such as:
Changing your health insurance provider…
It is only possible to switch once a year, somewhere between mid-November up until the 31st of December. Once you have cancelled, you have one month (until the 1st of February) to choose a new insurance provider. There may be some exceptions, of course. For instance, if you change jobs or the main insurance holder must be cancelled from your policy.
With this introduction to Dutch health insurance, you can roll up your sleeves and start making arrangements for 2022. Remember, this is a very personal process; it isn’t one size fits all. With Independer and Zorgwijzer, you can compare what you think you might need to all of the possible packages available based on your own needs and budget. By taking the time now to evaluate your health insurance policy needs, you can breathe easier the rest of the year, should the unexpected unexpectedly happen.
For more information, reach out to your Relocation Consultant at Your Talent Agency.