The 70000 British expatriates living and working in the Netherlands had a nasty shock for New Year.
Under dramatic changes to the healthcare and health insurance system from Ist January 2006, all employers in the country have to pay into a central insurance fund. All expatriates, whether employees, self employed or retired, have to buy insurance locally. There is no exception for those with an international/ expatriate cover already.
For many years in the Netherlands, anyone not eligible for public health insurance, had to have private health insurance. Within private insurance, there was a wide range of choice of different policies, with different levels of cover and price. Two thirds of the population was covered by a publicly provided sickness/ health insurance system within the Social Security system. Membership was compulsory for all employees and self-employed below a certain level of income. The system was financed by contributions from employees and employers. The remaining third of the population had compulsory private health insurance.
From 1st January 2006, everyone, irrespective of income, employed or self-employed, no longer have this public health system. All are compelled to take out private health cover. This is not paid for direct, but is taken as a wage deduction from employees and as tax from the self-employed. Those without cover can be fined.