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To change or not to change health insurance company? Five key questions


There are just a couple of days to go before you have to decide whether or not to change health insurance company. Here’s the answers to some of the questions which expats most frequently ask about Dutch health insurance and the healthcare system.

Changing healthcare insurance company does not have to be a complicated business. But there are some things you do need to think about before you do.

When do I need to pay the deductible excess?
The deductible excess (eigen risico) is part of the out-of-pocket medical expenses. Put simply, you have to pay the first €385 of your treatment – with a few exceptions. So, if you need to have a broken arm taken care of on January 2, you will have to pay €385 of the bill yourself. Once you have paid this amount, your health insurance company will reimburse any further medical expenses.

Some healthcare costs are exempted from the excess, such as:

  • Consultations with a family doctor
  • Maternity care
  • Healthcare for children below the age of 18
  • Healthcare that is covered by your supplemental insurance

Should I increase my excess in exchange for a lower premium?
Increasing your deductible excess by up to €500 will result in a discount on your annual health insurance premium of up to €300, depending on your chosen insurance company. If your annual medical bills are usually below €385 a year, it may be worth increasing the excess charge. However, keep in mind you will need to pay the full amount (€885) in one go if you need extensive (emergency) hospital treatment.

Since insurance companies offer varying discounts, you really do need to compare policies to make sure you pick the right one for you.

How can I cancel my current insurance policy?
If you switch insurance company (overstappen zorgverzekering) before January 1, your current policy will be automatically cancelled. Your new policy will be active from the beginning of January.

You can also cancel your insurance policy by notifying the insurer by e-mail or post. This gives you an extra month in January to compare and select a new insurance policy.

Can I go to any Dutch hospital for a treatment?
The Dutch healthcare system is arranged in such a way that treatment which can be planned in advance can be carried out by any hospital, as long the hospital has enough space and the required qualifications. The insurance company will, however, only fully cover the medical expenses if it has a contract with the hospital concerned.

This means if you want to go to a hospital which your insurance company does not have a contract with, you may have to pay part of the bill yourself. That percentage for non-contracted health providers depends mainly on the type of policy:

  • Naturapolis: your insurer will pay 65 to 80% of the average contract charge
  • Combinatiepolis: your insure will pay 100% of the average contract charge
  • Restitutiepolis: your insurer will pay up to 100% of the medical bill, except when the medical bill is excessively high

Does Dutch health insurance cover medical care abroad?
Yes it does. However, you do need to take some things into account. First of all, the basic health insurance only covers emergency medical care up to the cost of the treatment in the Netherlands. For example, if a certain treatment costs €500 in the Netherlands, the insurance company will only pay up to €500 of the foreign doctor or hospital’s bill. If you go to a private clinic you will probably have to pay a large part of the bill yourself.

It is possible to extent your level of cover by choosing a supplemental insurance with a Europe or global cover for emergency medical care abroad. Use an insurance comparison website like Zorgwijzer to compare the cost of doing this.

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