Survival guide: Healthcare insurance in the Netherlands

16 October 2012 – Being an international student in the Netherlands requires a lot of arranging which can lead to frustrations. EM provides tips and tricks to ease your stay in the Netherlands. This week in our Survival Guide: how to get the appropriate healthcare insurance.

You have decided to study abroad in the Netherlands as an international student. So far so good, but did you know that all international students in the Netherlands are obliged to have health insurance. But the type of health insurance that you need depends on various factors which can be confusing. So which kind of health insurance do you need?

What types of healthcare insurances exist in the Netherlands?

There are three types of healthcare insurances:

1. Public Healthcare Insurance (in Dutch: basisverzekering)

The Public Healthcare Insurance is obliged for all Dutch and also some international students. This insurance covers all basic health costs and necessary care. The Dutch government decides what is covered by the Public Healthcare Insurance and what is not covered. The overall costs covered are aimed at curing the patient, so preventative medicines are always excluded.

2. Private Healthcare Insurance (in Dutch: aanvullende verzekering)

In addition to the Public Healthcare insurance there is an option of applying for an additional insurance package. These packages differ and the more you would like covered, the more expensive they are. In these packages are health costs which are not covered by the Public Healthcare Insurance such as glasses, physiotherapy.

3. EU Healthcare insurance card

The only way you can get an EU Healthcare Insurance Card is if you have a public healthcare insurance in your home country which has to be within the EU. Also, your stay abroad needs to be temporary, usually meaning less than a year.


Check with your health insurance company at home what they understand as a temporary stay, in order to avoid unnecessary complications while applying for the EU Healthcare insurance card.

Which healthcare insurance do you need?

Looking at the following profiles and see which characteristics apply to you helps you to determine which healthcare insurance you need.

Only studying + younger than 30 years

If you do not have any part-time jobs or traineeship which provides you salary and you are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you need an EU Healthcare insurance card.

If you do not have any part-time jobs or traineeship which provides you salary and you are not from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you need Private Healthcare Insurance.

Studying + part-time job/traineeship + younger than 30 years

Regardless of your country of origin, you need Public Healthcare Insurance.


If you switch jobs a lot, than make sure to insure yourself at a company that lets you switch easily between private and public healthcare insurance, because most institutions have group contracts with a particular insurance company.

“I recently started a part-time job and the first thing the HR employee told me is that I was required to have Dutch Public Healthcare Insurance. I was rather surprised since I am insured in my home country and had no clue how the healthcare system was arranged here”, says Nina Limpf (22) a third year IBCoM student from Germany. Limpf asked a Dutch friend to explain the healthcare system and help her find the most appropriate healthcare insurance.

Only studying + older than 30 years + temporary stay

In the Netherlands your stay is considered temporary if you’re here for a year or less. If you are from EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will need an EU Healthcare Insurance card. Are you not from the EU, EEA or Switzerland? Then you need Private Healthcare insurance

Only studying + older than 30 years + permanent stay

Your stay is considered permanent in the Netherlands if (1) your stay is between one and three years. Your stay is considered permanent unless you demonstrate to the authorities that it is temporary. Or (2) your stay is longer than three years. If this is the case, you will need Public Healthcare Insurance regardless of your country of origin.

Important: If you are from a non-EU/EEA country, you need to insure at a private healthcare insurance until you receive a confirmation from the Immigration Service that you will get a resident permit.

What do you need to know before applying for healthcare insurance?


Usually, both Public and Private Healthcare Insurance run until the December 31 of each year. This also means that you cannot switch insurance companies in the meantime. However, it is usually possible to add additional packages to your Private Healthcare Insurance throughout the year.

“I might not be here until the end of the year and do not want to pay unnecessary monthly costs”, says Limpf, “therefore I looked at healthcare insurance companies which have a monthly cancelation policy. Now I am insured at ZEKUR, which is also one of the cheapest.” 

Financial penalty

If you are required to have a Public Healthcare Insurance but do not do so in time, you risk a financial penalty. This penalty is around 130 % of the average monthly fee of a Public Healthcare Insurance for every month that you are not insured.

How do you get the different kinds of healthcare insurance?

Public Healthcare Insurance and Private Healthcare Insurance

You are free to choose any health insurance company within the Netherlands, since all offer the public healthcare insurance. Especially AON and Lippman are known for providing healthcare insurance tailored specifically to international students.


In order to apply for a Dutch Public and Private Healthcare Insurance you need a BSN number (in Dutch: Burgerservicenummer). Once you register yourself in the Netherlands, your local municipality will provide you with one.

EU Healthcare insurance card

You can easily apply for this card online. In almost all EU cases, you can apply in your native language. Where and how depends on your country of origin. More information can be found here by clicking on your home country.

What does each type of healthcare insurance cost?

Public Healthcare Insurance

Public Healthcare Insurance ranges from € 73 – €100 Euros per month.

Private Healthcare Insurance

Private Healthcare Insurance ranges from € 10 – 20 Euros per month for each additional package.

Tip: arefully decide which extra insurance would be necessary for you. For example, dental costs might be more applicable if you have braces and if you have problems with your back, a package which covers physiotherapy might be more appropriate.

EU Healthcare Insurance Card

Applying for the EU Healthcare Insurance Card is free. NdB