Swapping healthcare systems
I moved from Canterbury to The Netherlands on 1 August. When I moved into my new abode in The Hague, there were a thousand and one things to do. But one of the first things was to request a Covid test on the fifth day of my quarantine. I was quite sure it would turn out to be negative, so that I would be allowed out on day six and wouldn’t have to stay indoors for the full ten days. This, then, is my experience of Healthcare in the Netherlands.
I organised the test via the GGD (Gemeentelijke Geneeskundige Dienst: Community Health Authority), the local health centre, and got a patient number and an appointment for 11:40 the next day. I was to cycle there with a face mask on, not using a taxi or public transport.
The procedure was very much like the way tests are carried out in the UK: a nurse touched my tonsils and put the stick far up my left nostril. The result came that afternoon as a message on my mobile: negative.
Registering with a GP
The next thing I did was to pay a visit to the GP who has a practice straight opposite my apartment. My landlady goes to that surgery as well, and recommended one of the GPs there. It was very easy to make an appointment. I could go there on day seven after my arrival. I met the lady at 10:30 and told her I hadn’t been to see a GP in England for the last three years, since my move from Broomfield to Canterbury.
We had a chat for a quarter of an hour, and I was duly registered as a patient. She said she hoped she would not see me in the near future, because that meant that all was well.
Registering with the neighbourhood pharmacy
Straight afterwards I went next door to the pharmacy, where they gave me a form to fill in and return in order to join. I am very fortunate to live opposite a surgery with an adjacent pharmacy, and I was duly registered with them. I’m not on any medicines at the moment, so that was just a formality.
Applying for health insurance
Next was getting health insurance. I did this online and I am now insured from 1 September, for the princely sum of €115 a month. The insurance covers hospitalisation, ambulance services, doctor’s visits and medical aids, but I have to pay €350 per year of any costs myself.
It surprised me how easy it all was, especially the speed with which I could see the GP. Just a phone call and hey presto! In November I will be called up for an “MOT”, a thorough examination to see whether I am as healthy as I think I am.
I’m glad your experience with the Dutch health system has been so trouble-free thus far. If you were going the other way, back to Canterbury, you would have had far more difficulty registering with a GP. There are GP shortages in many parts of Kent.
The Dutch system, like the French system, requires subscribing to health insurance. This has to be with a Dutch registered company. The co-payment of the first €350 of costs each year means that you can plan for this by always having the savings ready, and when you need treatment which is more expensive, it is good that you do not have to worry about the extra costs.