How to get dental insurance in The Netherlands

General health insurance is compulsory in The Netherlands, whether you’re a native, an expat or a visiting student. You will need to have arranged your health insurance within 4 months of becoming resident in Holland.

What’s Covered?

So, the first thing you need to do is find a good health insurer. There are two forms of insurance, basic policies and supplementary (aanvullende) packages. Insurers are legally obliged to offer you basic insurance, irrespective of pre-existing conditions, personal lifestyle choices, or age. The insurers are privately run, the government maintains oversight with a view to the cost, value, and the quality of insurance and health care in general.

Basic insurance always covers dental care for the Under 18’s. For adults only dental surgery, an x-ray or two and dentures are covered. For everything else you will need a supplementary policy. You can look at the different types of supplementary insurance available and opt for additional coverage to cover your regular checkups, hygienist visits and the odd filling, up to and including major root canal type work on your teeth.

Sites like Independer and Zorgwijzer are good ways to compare insurers and supplementary dental packages.

Costs

Your health insurance costs are then divided up in two main parts. You have a monthly premium (premie) that is deducted from your bank account every month – yes, make sure you have a Dutch bank account too! And eigen risico, your excess. The excess is a government stipulated amount, in 2017 it is set at €385. If you have no medical/dental costs in a year you don’t have to pay the excess. If you need medical attention (including dental) you have to pay the excess before the insurer will take over the costs.

It gets a little complicated here. Some medications and procedures fall under eigen risico, some don’t; sometimes a portion of the cost of treatment falls to you and some to the insurer. Your insurer, doctors, chemists, dentists and other medical professionals can always indicate whether something is covered under your policy or not; and if they don’t – ask!

No dental insurance..?

Um, yeah. Not advisable. If you don’t register for health insurance within 4 months of becoming resident in The Netherlands then you will get a letter from the Nationaal Zorginstituut (the government’s health care institute) informing you of your responsibility to take some out. You get a 3 month extension to do that. If you still haven´t got health insurance after that then they´ll hit you up with a big fine! In 2016 it was €366.

Also, let’s be serious for a second, the chances of something happening within the first 7 months of your residency that mean you need to see a doctor, dentist or visit a hospital are reasonably high. If you don’t have insurance and need emergency care, dental surgery for instance, and have no insurance you could be looking at bills that run into the thousands of euros.

The Netherlands isn´t America though. The private health insurance system is more akin to that of Scandinavian countries, with good oversight and costs, value and quality held firmly in check by the government. This goes for your dental care as much as for the rest of your health care provision.