Changes to Dutch health care: rising costs and changing benefits

netherlands picThe mandatory level of health insurance required by Dutch law has recently increased in cost, despite record numbers of people being unable to meet the payments on their premiums. In addition there have been a number of changes to the terms of certain services and a significant rise in the excess rate.

The Basisverzekering insurance package is designed to cover basic medical costs, including: hospitalisations, appointments with GPs and specialists, and prescriptions. It is compulsory for all citizens and long-term residents in the Netherlands to obtain at least this basic cover from their insurer or face a fine.

As of January 1st 2013 the minimum excess (the eignen risico, or ‘own risk’ element) has risen from €220 to €350 a year. This means that the first €350 of medical costs are your own responsibility to pay, and further costs are paid directly by your insurer.

Essential services such as GP costs, obstetrics and maternity care are automatically covered by your insurer regardless of excess cost; and costs for services provided for by additional insurance cover are not included in the the excess calculations. Higher excesses can still be voluntarily chosen in exchange for lower premiums.

Other changes to consider:

  • The provision of care such as dietary advice and stop-smoking services, which are now covered by basic insurance.
  • Full dental care is still covered for under-18’s and the government has abolished its experiment with free pricing.
  • Low income support in the form of the ‘healthcare allowance’ (zorgtoeslag) has increased by €115 to compensate for the rise in excesses.
  • Some services such as mobility aids (canes, walkers) and hearing aids are no longer fully covered.
  • IVF treatment is available with conditions: a limit of three treatments and women must be under 43.
  • Adult psychiatric patients are now covered for residential care and mental health treatment.