The Netherlands has a good quality healthcare system. The role of the family doctor (huisarts) is central. For many newcomers, this is the most important difference between the Dutch medical system and that of their home country.
You will need to register with a family doctor when you live in the Netherlands. The family doctor treats patients for non-surgical problems and is specialized in common and minor diseases. In Leeuwarden, we have over 40 different family doctors!
Pharmacy and prescriptions
In the Netherlands, there are two types of stores where medications are available.
– A drugstore (drogist), such as Kruidvat, Etos and Trekpleister, supplies non-prescription medications as well as homeopathic agents, general toiletries, cosmetics, vitamins and baby items.
– A pharmacy (apotheek) provides prescription and non-prescription drugs.
You are free to choose any dentist (tandarts) – a refferal is not needed. Leeuwarden has more than 50 dentists! After you registered with a dentist, they will generally contact you for a check-up every six months.
To visit an ophthalmologist (oogarts), you need a referral from your family doctor. You do not need a referral to visit an optician (opticien) for an eye eximination.
Leeuwarden has one big hospital; MCL Leeuwarden (Medical Centre Leeuwarden). All hospitals in the Netherlands have excellent standards of care. You will need a referral letter from your family doctor to go to the hospital for non-emergencies. Upon your first visit to the hospital, you must register with the patient registration desk or hospital administation. Your insurance information is taken, and you will receive a plastic ID card (ponsplaatje). Bring this ID card with you to all future visits.