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Navigating Healthcare in the Netherlands

Date:01 December 2021
The University Medical Centre Groningen is pictured above - hopefully you'll only need to visit as a medical student.
The University Medical Centre Groningen is pictured above - hopefully you'll only need to visit as a medical student.

It is mandatory for all international students to be covered by ‘some form of health insurance’ while residing in the Netherlands. ‘Some form of health insurance’ can be a confusing phrase, you might wonder: “Do you mean Insurance, Basic Healthcare or EHIC, Luc? Can you be more specific?” (Don’t worry, I had the same reaction).

So I thought I’d break down the Healthcare system requirements in 3 categories. This blog is going to get a little technical in parts, but I’ll try my best to keep it light and breezy.


1)  I am an EU/EEA Student. How do I get insured?:

If you are an EU/EEA student who is planning on only studying in the Netherlands, you can apply for an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)! If you have an EHIC, you are not required to take out separate health coverage. The EHIC allows you to live and study in another country in the EU/EEA while being covered by your national healthcare provider in your home country.  Remember that you have to apply for an EHIC card with your national insurance provider before you come to the Netherlands!

Let’s get technical:

At this point, I assume you’re wondering what exactly is covered once you get an EHIC card. 

Well, quite simply, you will not have to pay for any treatment if the treatment is free for locals:

  • This means that consultations at a registered General Practitioner working under a public healthcare scheme are free. 
  • Serious medical emergencies are also covered by the EHIC. 
  • Follow-up treatment and rehabilitation are usually excluded from coverage, and you might need to pay for them out of your own pocket. (Which can be a bummer!)

Even if you have to pay for something, you could be eligible for a reimbursement from your healthcare provider in your home country! In the Netherlands, you can send your invoices to Zilveren Kruis (a Dutch insurance company) who can refund your costs. Even if they are unable to refund your claim, you can still contact your health provider when you get home and they might be able to refund you further. (Not really a bummer after all!)

Important Takeaways:

  • Apply for your EHIC Card with your national provider before coming
  • Do as the locals do (register for a local GP) and you’ll be covered
  • Claim any out-of-pocket expenses from Zilveren Kruis
  • If that fails, claim from your national provider

Even if you have an EHIC card, it might be smart to apply for additional insurance – check out the point below.


2)  I don’t have an EHIC. What should I do? 

Students from outside the EU/EEA, and those without an EHIC card, can apply for insurance from a private insurance company like Aon Student Insurance. During my first year of studies, I opted for coverage with Aon as their prices are really good and the coverage is quite broad.

I found it really easy to apply for this type of Student Insurance (a few minutes on the website). There are quite a few packages to choose from, the most extensive costs around 40 euros per month. These insurance packages also include liability insurance, household-contents insurance and luggage insurance. I think this type of insurance is a really good idea as it covers more than just your health care – for instance if you cause damage to someone’s property by accident, you’re covered. 

Even if you have an EHIC, it might be a good idea to consider getting additional insurance with a private insurer, as the coverage is broader and you are even entitled to participate in some extra medical activities – like physiotherapy – which isn’t covered under standard EHIC treatments.


3)  I want to work alongside my studies, do I need more insurance?

If you’re planning on working while studying as an international student, you are required to have Dutch Basic Healthcare. Even if you are insured with an EHIC or a private company, you are required by law to take out Basic Healthcare with a Dutch Provider. There are quite a few healthcare insurers in the Netherlands, and choosing the right one for you can take a bit of research and comparison.

Luckily, there is a really useful site that can help you in making your decision on choosing the right provider for you. I recommend consulting the Zorgwijzer – a website that helps you compare different insurers along with their prices and what is covered by each. I’d say that this is the most helpful site in choosing which insurer to use. Basic healthcare is a little pricier than Student Insurance packages, but it covers more medically than just GP visits and emergencies. Remember: if you do not work in  the Netherlands, you cannot take out Basic Healthcare.

If you do not have Basic Dutch Healthcare while working, you will be liable for a fine of around 380 euros. (A real bummer!)

If you want to know more about working while studying, take a look at this blog!


4)  Healthcare Allowances:

Zorgtoeslag (healthcare allowance only for Basic Dutch Healthcare):

In the Netherlands, as a student you can apply for something called ‘Zorgtoeslag,’ this You might qualify for a healthcare benefit, which means that you can apply for a grant from the Dutch government. The requirements to get a healthcare allowance aren’t too demanding either. You need to earn under 31,000 euros per year, not have too many assets and be 18 years or older. You can apply for this benefit on the Belastingdienst (government welfare) website by logging in with your DigID (you’ll be able to create a DigID once you’ve registered at the municipality. It is a digital ID that you can use to login to government websites). You can get up to 108 euros back per month (in 2021), which makes Basic Healthcare more affordable.


I hope that this blog will help you better understand what type of insurance is best suited for your situation, and that you’ll be able to make the best choice for your needs. You are welcome to look through the healthcare pages on our website for more information. If you have more questions, let us know by sending an email to prospectives

Good luck, and stay healthy! 

About the author

Hi there! I am Luc, a South African student of International and European Law. In my spare time you will find me consuming Netflix, playing guitar and singing, cycling around, spending time with friends and whispering “what a cutie” to every dog and cat that happens to walk past me in Groningen!


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