THE DUTCH HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
A very brief introduction : In the Netherlands, if you want to see a doctor you need to see your General Practitioner (GP) first.
Normally it is not possible to go directly to a hospital doctor. Only in case of a major accident or a highly alarming emergency you can go directly to a hospital emergency department.
In Dutch the GP is called : huisarts (literally home doctor). Together with you, the GP will be able to handle your medical problem in more than 90 % of the cases. Sometimes the GP will directly order blood tests or ultrasound or x-ray investigations.
If necessary, the GP will refer you to a medical specialist in the hospital by sending a referral letter electronically. You will receive an email to confirm this. Usually some days later, you will receive a letter from the hospital with an appointment. Eventually you can alter the appointment by telephone, and sometimes you are asked by email to make an appointment yourself by telephone. Usually the waiting times for a first appointment are between a couple of days to six weeks, but if necessary the GP will make an appointment for the same day.
You can make an appointment with a midwife or a physiotherapist without a referral letter from the GP. In the case of a consultation with a psychologist, most Dutch health care insurance companies require a GP-referral letter for reimbursement of the costs.
If you have a foreign insurance, payment is normally expected immediately after the consultation, preferably by credit card. You will receive a bill for reimbursement with your insurance company.
If you have a Dutch health insurance all appointments with the GP are directly paid for by the insurance company. However, every year the first 385 euro’s for prescriptions, laboratory- or other investigations or referral to a hospital doctor, will be at your own expense. The insurance company will pay this first, but will send you a bill for these costs.
Furthermore, not all Dutch insurance companies have contracts with all hospitals for every form of treatment. As we as GP’s cannot check which insurance companies have contracts with which hospitals it is your own responsibility to check if your hospital costs for this specific problem will be reimbursed.
Finally, during registration you will be asked which pharmacy you want to deal with. See the list of names and addresses. The Hanzeplein pharmacy (opposite the main entrance of the University Hospital – UMCG) is the only pharmacy which is always open, also out of office hours 24/7, 365 days a year. But be aware : out of office hours mean extra costs are involved !
For more information: see PHARMACIES section