Dutch health care system

In many areas, including health care, things are often organised differently in The Netherlands compared to your home country. Here we try to explain clearly how health care works in The Netherlands.

Non-inverventionist approach
In general, there is a natural, non-interventionist approach to medical and maternity care in The Netherlands, reflected in the reluctance of doctors to prescribe drugs unless absolutely necessary, the general practice of giving birth without any pain relief and the high proportion of home births. Additionally, doctors tend to volunteer much less information to their patients about their conditions than is normal practice elsewhere, and there is far less preventative health screening than in many other western countries; it is not, for example, usual for women to have annual pap smears.

Very high standard
Some non-Dutch nationals living in The Netherlands reportedly find this approach to healthcare a source of concern. On the other hand, the medical care that is available in The Netherlands is generally of a very high standard with excellent facilities and advanced specialist treatments. The Netherlands has one of the best healthcare services in the European Union.

The Euro Health Consumer Index is an annual ranking of national European healthcare systems across five areas that are key to the consumer: patients’ rights and information, waiting times for common treatments, care outcomes, the generosity of the system and access to medication. Dutch healthcare has been in the top three for years in a row. Alternative treatments, such as homeopathy and acupuncture, are very popular in The Netherlands and the cost of these are sometimes covered by health insurance.

List of terms

In dutch: In English:
Huisarts General Practitioners (GP) or family doctor
Apotheek Pharmacy
Drogist/drogisterij Drug store
Verzekering Insurance
Zorgverzekeraars Insurance companies
Spreekuur Surgery visit
Consultatiebureau Child health clinic
Ziekenhuis Hospital
Spoedeisende hulp Accident and emergency
Recept Prescription
Verloskundige Midwife
Kraamzorg Postnatal care
Thuiszorg Home care