The Netherlands is credited with having one of the best healthcare systems in the world and expats will have access to world-class facilities and highly qualified medical professionals.
The healthcare system in the Netherlands is one of the few in the world that blurs the distinction between private and public care. The government funds long-term health treatment through tax, while short-term treatment is covered by mandatory private insurance.
What makes the system unique is that Dutch medical schemes have to offer certain basic services for a monthly fee and aren't allowed to refuse anyone based on risk. Belonging to a scheme is compulsory for all residents, including expats with permanent residency. Private schemes are also partially funded by employers.
Healthcare facilities in the Netherlands
High standards and specialist treatments can be found at medical facilities in the Netherlands. All hospitals offer similar facilities and services, but some specialise in particular areas of treatment.
Most doctors understand English, but expats often complain that local doctors lack sympathy and are reluctant to prescribe medications unless absolutely essential. This largely stems from the general non-interventionist approach adopted by most Dutch medical practitioners.
Expats should try to find a general practitioner (huisarts) as soon as possible after they arrive. They're normally busy and it can be difficult to find one who has space for more patients. After finding a doctor, expats will need to register with him or her.
It’s important to note that the Dutch healthcare system is divided into different tiers, with GPs forming a large part of the first tier, and it isn't possible to visit a specialist, on the second tier, without a doctor's referral.
Pharmacies in the Netherlands
Pharmacies (apotheken) are plentiful in the Netherlands and stock both prescription and non-prescription medications. Large cities usually have 24-hour pharmacies available alongside those operating during regular working hours only.
Health insurance in the Netherlands
All residents and taxpayers in the Netherlands are required to have medical insurance from a private health insurance company.
Insurers are required to provide the same basic coverage for everyone. Health insurers are not allowed to deny coverage to any person who applies for a standard insurance package and all policyholders must be charged the same premium, regardless of their age or state of health.
Some medical services are not covered by the basic insurance plans, and additional health insurance is optional to cover such costs.
Emergency services in the Netherlands
Several private ambulance services are contracted to the Dutch government and operate within a particular service area. Response times are good.
The emergency number for an ambulance in the Netherlands is 112.