A health insurance is mandatory in Netherlands. Basic insurance covers for free visits to the general doctor (for medicines you have to pay). The general doctor is called the GP. If your illness requires hospitalization or seeing of a specialist doctor (ex: dermatologist, gynecologist etc), that is also covered. For dental, physiotherapy coverage you need to take additional insurance.
Once you get your insurance paper, you need to register yourself (and family) with a doctor (GP). You can visit only that GP for any illness (except dental and emergency cases)! If the GP thinks your illness needs a specialist, he/she can recommend you to a specialist.
For kids, in addition to the above you need to:
– register your child with Zuid Zorg. Zuid Zorg is responsible for immunization, growth check and progress monitoring of your child. Your GP will not do any of these.
– register with a dentist and visit them every 5 or 6 months for general checkup. Dentist visits are free of cost for children even if you do not have dental insurance.
The GP will give a prescription that you have to buy in an Apotheek (Medical store). The procedure of buying the medicine is:
– you provide your insurance number to the Apotheek
– Apotheek will give you the medicine without asking you to pay
– Apotheek will send the bill to your insurance company
– if the total cost of the medicines you have bought so far for the year is less than €360/-, the insurance company will charge the bill to you. Anything over €360/- for the calendar year will be paid by the insurance company.
Important to note:
GPs work only from Monday thru Friday, 8:30AM to 5:00PM!! Due to this limited window, even on their work day, you may or may not get an appointment on the same day! They also go on vacation very often!! In emergency situations, you can visit a hospital (open 24×7) after taking an appointment. Depending on how serious the hospital doctor thinks your condition is, he/she might accept or refuse to treat you.
Also a well known fact about Dutch GPs is that they will not prescribe medicines easily. If they expect the illness will go away on its own, they will just give you some assurance and ask you to just go back home and take rest!
Services here is world class. But there are also exceptions…I have heard a few cases of negligence, ignorance etc. So sometimes you may want to insist what you want the GP to do based on your opinion, knowledge etc. For not so normal cases, people surf the internet, identify the problem and take the solution to the GP!! So good luck 🙂
Disclaimer: The is my best effort and personal opinion. No responsibility will be taken for any inaccuracy