Health Insurance for International Students in the Netherlands: Best Practices [2023]


No Comments

If you’re an international student in the Netherlands, understanding health insurance might seem like a big task, especially if you aren’t fluent in Dutch. Yet, ensuring you’re adequately covered can save you from unforeseen medical expenses and legal complications.

This article is dedicated to simplifying health insurance in the Netherlands.

Key Takeaways

  • Health insurance is mandatory for everyone residing in the Netherlands, ensuring high-quality healthcare for all.
  • Students can choose from private health insurance, Dutch basic health insurance, or EHIC based on their status and needs.
  • EHIC offers coverage for necessary treatments during temporary stays for EU/EEA and Swiss students.
  • Non-EU/EEA students must be proactive about insurance, especially if they plan to work alongside their studies.
  • Numerous resources exist to guide international students through the complexities of Dutch health insurance.

Why Health Insurance is Mandatory in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is renowned for its high-quality healthcare system, a significant pillar of which is the mandatory health insurance policy for all its residents. But why is this requirement in place, and what does it mean for international students like you?

A Commitment to Universal Health Coverage

The Dutch believe in offering every individual access to essential health services without causing financial hardship. This principle is deeply ingrained in their health policy, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their background or income, can receive medical care when needed.

Financial Security for All

Health challenges can arrive unannounced, bringing along unexpected expenses. The mandatory health insurance system in the Netherlands ensures that individuals aren’t burdened with sudden, exorbitant medical bills.

For international students, this means they can focus on their studies and experience the country without the constant worry of potential health-related financial setbacks.

Legal Implications

Beyond the welfare perspective, Dutch law mandates that every resident, including international students, should have at least basic health insurance coverage.

Failing to adhere can result in fines and, in some cases, legal complications. It’s essential to be aware of these rules to ensure a smooth stay in the country.

Benefiting the Greater Good

A collectively insured population also means that risks and costs are distributed more evenly across society. This system ensures that healthcare remains affordable and accessible for everyone, including those who might need more extensive medical attention.

Types of Health Insurance Available

Types of Health Insurance Available

One of the reassuring aspects of the Dutch healthcare system is its structured and comprehensive nature. For international students, it’s essential to understand the different types of health insurance available to make an informed choice that best suits your individual needs. Let’s delve into the options:

Basic Health Insurance (Basisverzekering)

What it covers: The Basisverzekering ensures coverage for standard medical treatments, hospital stays, general practitioner visits, and certain medications. It’s designed to take care of the essential healthcare needs of an individual.

Approximate costs and considerations for students: While the cost can vary depending on the provider and specific policy details, students often find some affordable options tailored to their needs. Moreover, depending on your age and income, you might be eligible for a monthly healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag) to help offset the cost.

Additional Health Insurance (Aanvullende verzekering):

Overview of additional coverage: Beyond the basic coverage, this type of insurance provides for specialized treatments that may not be part of the Basisverzekering. Examples include dental care, physiotherapy, alternative medicine, and specific medications or treatments.

Factors determining its necessity: If you have particular health needs or want broader coverage, considering an Aanvullende verzekering might be a good idea. However, it’s essential to evaluate the benefits against the additional cost to ensure it aligns with your requirements and budget.

Choosing the Right Health Insurance Plan

Finding the right health insurance plan might initially seem like navigating a labyrinth. However, with a little guidance and understanding, you can confidently identify the best coverage for your unique needs.

Duration of stay: First and foremost, consider the length of your study program and your intended stay in the Netherlands. If you’re here for a short term, you might lean towards basic coverage. However, longer durations might necessitate a more comprehensive plan, especially if you foresee specific medical needs in the future.

Personal medical needs: It’s crucial to assess your current health status and any anticipated medical treatments. Do you have ongoing treatments? Are there any health conditions that require regular check-ups or medication? Answering these questions can guide you toward a plan that provides the necessary coverage without unnecessary expenses.

Budget considerations: As a student, it’s natural to be mindful of expenses. Different insurance providers offer varying rates and packages. Take the time to compare these, keeping in mind potential healthcare allowances or student discounts that can make a plan more affordable.

Tips for Comparing Different Insurance Providers

English Support: Given that Dutch might not be your first language, look for providers who offer customer service and documentation in English. This ensures clarity in understanding your policy.

Coverage Limitations: Always check for any limitations or exclusions in the plans. Some policies might have caps on certain treatments or may not cover specific medicines.

Reviews and Recommendations: Sometimes, fellow students or university support services can provide invaluable insights based on their experiences. Don’t hesitate to seek recommendations or read reviews online.

How to Apply for Health Insurance

Types of Health Insurance Available

Taking the step to apply for health insurance in the Netherlands is an empowering move towards ensuring your well-being during your academic journey. While the process may seem unfamiliar, we’re here to guide you through it step by step, ensuring you feel supported and informed at every turn.

Necessary Documents for International Students

Proof of Residence: This could be a residence permit or a document indicating your registered address in the Netherlands.

Identification: A valid passport or other government-issued ID.

Bank account details: Most Dutch insurers will require a local bank account for monthly premium payments.

Enrollment Confirmation: A letter or document from your educational institution confirming your status as a student.

Steps to Apply Online or Offline

Research Providers: Start by exploring different health insurance companies, focusing on their plans, rates, and any special packages for students.

Choose a Plan: Based on your research and personal needs, select a plan that aligns best with your requirements.

Initiate Application: Most insurance providers offer an online application process, which is both convenient and user-friendly. If you’re more comfortable with an in-person meeting or require English assistance, many companies also have customer service centers.

Submit Documents: Once you’ve filled out the application form, you’ll need to provide the necessary documents, either by uploading them online or submitting them in person.

Review and Confirm: Once your application is processed, you’ll receive a policy document detailing your coverage. It’s vital to review this thoroughly and ensure all details are correct.

Initiate Payments: Set up your payment method, usually through a direct debit system, to pay your premiums on time.

Understanding the “Own Risk” (Eigen Risico) Concept

In the Netherlands, health insurance often includes an “own risk” amount, which refers to a specific sum you must pay out-of-pocket before the insurance covers the costs.

For example, if your eigen risico is €385, and you incur medical costs of €500, you’ll need to pay the first €385 yourself, with the insurance covering the remaining €115. It’s essential to be aware of this amount when choosing a plan, as it impacts your potential out-of-pocket expenses.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and its Validity

The beauty of being a student within Europe is that you often have the advantage of interconnected systems designed to ease your mobility and stay across countries. One such beneficial provision is the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

If you’re from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, understanding the EHIC’s role in the Netherlands can be a tremendous relief. Let’s delve into its significance and how it operates in the Dutch healthcare landscape.

What is EHIC and Who Can Use It?

The EHIC is a free card that allows EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any European Economic Area country or Switzerland, under the same conditions and at the same cost as residents of that country. Essentially, it ensures that you’re covered for necessary healthcare when you’re temporarily away from your home country.

Duration of Validity in the Netherlands

The EHIC is valid for temporary stays in the Netherlands, meaning it’s designed for short visits, such as vacations, business trips, or short-term studies. If you’re planning to study in the Netherlands for a more extended period or establish residency, you’d typically need to look into a Dutch health insurance plan.

Limitations Compared to Dutch Health Insurance

Coverage: The EHIC covers necessary medical treatments but might not offer the comprehensive coverage of a Dutch health insurance policy. While it ensures you get the same treatment as Dutch residents in case of illness or injury, it might not cover things like preventive care, dental treatments, or non-emergency procedures.

Reimbursements: Depending on the healthcare service, you might have to pay upfront and then claim a reimbursement. Always keep receipts and any medical documentation to facilitate this process.

Validity: The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance, so it doesn’t cover private healthcare, lost property, or repatriation costs. Furthermore, the card’s services may change if there are any adjustments in agreements between countries.

Special Considerations for Non-EU/EEA Students

Special Considerations for Non-EU/EEA Students

As you embark on this academic journey, there are specific considerations regarding health insurance that you should be aware of. Let’s navigate this together, ensuring that you are well-informed and supported every step of the way.

Mandatory Health Insurance Requirement

Just like their EU/EEA counterparts, non-EU/EEA students are also required to have health insurance during their stay in the Netherlands. However, the EHIC may not be applicable to you, which makes understanding the Dutch health insurance system all the more crucial.

Options for Coverage

Private Health Insurance for International Students

Several insurance companies offer private health insurance packages tailored to the needs of international students. These plans are often more flexible and can be more aligned with the unique requirements of students from outside the EU/EEA region.

Dutch Basic Health Insurance (Basisverzekering)

If you plan to work alongside your studies, even part-time or in a paid internship, you are usually obligated to take out the Dutch basic health insurance. This is a mandatory requirement and ensures that you are adequately covered for most medical services.

Working while Studying

As mentioned, if you undertake any paid work while studying in the Netherlands, it becomes obligatory to get the Dutch basic health insurance. It’s essential to be proactive about this, as failing to secure the necessary insurance can result in fines.

Costs and Financial Support

The cost of health insurance might be a concern for many students. However, the Dutch government offers a healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag), which can significantly reduce the burden.

While this allowance is primarily designed for low-income residents, many students, due to their limited income, become eligible. It’s worth exploring if you qualify, as it can offer substantial financial relief.

Stay Duration and Coverage

If you’re in the Netherlands for a short course or an exchange program, some private health insurance policies tailored for short durations might be more suitable. Always consider the length of your stay and the nature of your program when choosing a policy.

Tips for International Students

Tips for International Students

Embracing student life in the Netherlands is an enriching journey, filled with vibrant cultural exchanges, rigorous academic pursuits, and memories to cherish. While health insurance and the accompanying administrative details might seem a bit daunting, it’s just a small piece of the puzzle.

To ensure you make the most of your time here and smoothly navigate these essential aspects, we’ve compiled a list of friendly tips designed to make your transition smoother and more informed:

Stay Proactive

It’s always beneficial to research and arrange your health insurance well before you arrive in the Netherlands. This proactive approach not only eases any potential stress but also ensures you’re covered from day one.

Leverage University Resources

Most universities have international offices or student support services that offer guidance on various administrative matters, including health insurance. These resources can be invaluable, providing insights tailored to the needs of international students.

Ask for Recommendations

Engage with fellow international students, both current and alumni. Their experiences can offer practical recommendations on which insurance providers or plans work best for them.

Bookmark English Resources

While Dutch is the predominant language for many official documents, many websites, including insurance providers, offer English versions. Bookmark these sites for easy access and better comprehension.

Keep Essential Documents Handy

Always have copies (both digital and physical) of your insurance policy, identification, and other necessary documents. This preparedness can be particularly helpful during medical visits or when seeking clarifications about your policy.

Stay Updated on Policy Renewals

Mark your calendar with renewal dates or any important policy-related deadlines. This ensures you’re always covered and avoids any unintentional lapses.

Understand Dutch Healthcare

Familiarize yourself with the Dutch healthcare system, including how to make general practitioner (GP) appointments or what to expect during hospital visits. This knowledge can make medical interactions more comfortable and less intimidating.

Prioritize Well-being

Beyond insurance, always prioritize your health and well-being. The Netherlands offers various wellness resources, from counseling services to fitness programs, which can contribute significantly to a wholesome student experience.

Emergency Contacts

Save essential contacts, such as your insurance helpline, local GP, or the nearest hospital, on your phone. Being prepared can make all the difference in emergency situations.

Stay Informed

Occasionally, there may be changes in regulations, policies, or benefits related to health insurance for international students. Stay updated by regularly checking official channels or university announcements.

Helpful Resources

This is the official website for immigration matters in the Netherlands. While its primary focus is on visas and residency, it provides useful insights into rights and responsibilities, including healthcare provisions for foreigners. website

This platform offers a comparison of various health insurance packages available in the Netherlands. Its English section can be particularly beneficial for those not fluent in Dutch. website

Nuffic is the Dutch organization for internationalization in education. It provides diverse resources and insights beneficial for international students, including details on healthcare provisions and policies.

The NFIA offers a ‘Living’ section on its website that provides information about living in the Netherlands, which includes useful insights into healthcare and insurance.

If you’re from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, this official page offers detailed information on the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), its benefits, and how to use it.


Pieter van der Meer, our Lifestyle Coordinator at, embodies the vibrant and diverse Dutch lifestyle. Born and raised in Utrecht, Pieter has a deep-rooted love for his homeland, which reflects in his in-depth knowledge of the Netherlands’ culture, traditions, and lifestyle.

Leave a Comment