This blog is a part of the JLIN series Things to do ASAP for JLIN: (most things can be done online or by a phone call)

  1. Get a medical insurance(verzekering) from any medical insurance company ( I use Achmea, Zilweren Kruis). Check this site to get some comparison on costs (dutch language). And here if you need a broker in English.
  2. Find the doctor/general practitioner(G.P) near you. You can decide if it should be a man or woman, old or young, single or group, etc. Just ask about such options. Check website of your gemeente(townhall) or ask them to find the G.P near you.
  3. You can also find the G.P near you through this website.
  4. Register yourself with the insurance card at the doctor.

You are now free to visit your ‘home doctor’. Just fix an appointment. Remember that if you are late, you won’t meet him/her instead you lose the money! You could also fix a telephonic appointment. In which case the G.P calls you. Your G.P is your first contact for all problems. If you need a specialist, G.P says yes and gives you a letter to contact them. Remember YOU decide whom to meet G.P can only give a suggestion.

Medicine? may be next time! : In India, if you have a fever you go to the doctor and comeback with loads of medicines. You pay for it and you are satisfied! Ideally you should be resting for a week with a paracetamol. If your fever is not reducing even after a week then you have enough reason to visit the doctor. Would be nice to keep this in mind when you go to a doctor in Netherlands. Else you end-up wasting yours and G.P’s time and don’t even think about getting any prescription for silly fever and cold!

Here in Netherlands, you don’t pay for visit to doctor nor for the prescribed medicines. But nothing is free! So you pay for the insurance, around 100 Euros per month! And that too for a basic insurance(basisverzekering with out dental,phsyio therapy, etc.) . Again it is mandatory. If you are on a short visit in Netherlands, you should be covered already(no need to take any extra insurance). But if you are here for a longer stay get one ASAP. I use Achmea Insurance called Zilweren Kruis for a basic insurance and I pay 116 Euros when I write this(2013). So contact an insurance company ASAP.

Now what are the advantages of having an insurance. All treatment is free! You met with an accident or get diagnosed for Sleep Apnea or just anything serious and you get treated regardless of the cost. Well.. the treatment is not exactly ‘free’ because the first 300 Euros or something will have to be paid by you (you get a mail at the end of the year and it called ‘own risk’) in addition to the monthly payments you do. Any amount that exceeds the limit is ‘free’. The only thing that is not included in own-risk is visit to the G.P.

Make sure you have a DigiId as you can modify your insurance settings yourself. Eg: Do you need physio (say, 6 visits) included, check your ‘own risk’ balance, cost of each visit, etc. And most things are fixed by Nov for the upcoming year. So act accordingly by changing things around that time.

World of checklists! Here, everything is done through checklist by some nervy freshers! If you go to a specialist, you first meet trainees who take you through a checklist. The checklist acts like a flowchart in understanding your problem. They then report to specialist and he gives you a 5 seconds time. It is over! You now need to fix another appointment! You need to take initiative(talk) if you want more time with specialist. In India, the real doctor uses his experience and time to understand your situation. Here, the checklist does that!! I would call it lack of knowledge. May be it is better to publish the checklist then everyone knows what to do themselves 🙂

On the brighter side of including trainees in every dealing is that doctors cannot churn money from patients with incredicble stories. Many a times trainees have reported it and brought justice to patients and insurance firms.

Tip: It is highly likely that you get a ‘gas trouble’ problem after living for a week in Netherlands. I went to the doctor with this problem. And you know what? “blah blah blah… check online for fibre rich food” is what the doctor said. Too easy an advice! In my case it was because of the milk. I completely avoided milk and instead used soya milk and all problems disappeared. There is also lactose free milk available but soya is far better. I recently found another good option in super market goat milk! And one more thing, you can give excess medicines back to Pharmacy. That is all you need to know as a JLIN(Just landed Indian in Netherlands)