Every person living and working in the Netherlands is legally obliged to subscribe to at least a basic health care insurance. You are free to choose any provider of health insurance, but you will need a BSN (Burger Service Nummer or social security number) before you can do so.
The insurance must provide standard coverage including, for example, the cost of consulting a general practitioner, undergoing a test in a hospital or buying medication at a pharmacy. Additional insurance like dentist, physiotherapy, birth control and family planning is optional and provided by all health insurers.
The Dutch patient has a lot of freedom in choosing his own healthcare. A good website to find a GP, midwife, dentist and other services is www.zorgkaartnederland.nl , which also gives reviews. The website is in Dutch, but easy to understand; type in your city of residence and narrow the search by profession (‘beroep’). At the end of this chapter you can find a list of useful Dutch words.
Even if you are insured back in your home country, taking a Dutch health insurance is mandatory in most cases. You have to arrange your health insurance immediately after your arrival. Once you acquire your health insurance policy, the company (by Dutch law) automatically starts charging the insurance costs from the day you received your residence permit, and not from the day you acquire your insurance policy. In this way you are insured from the first day of arrival.