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Medical Tourism - Destination - The Netherlands

General Informations


The most popular destinations for Dutch medical tourists are Belgium, Germany and Turkey, although exact percentages are not known. The reasons why these people opt for treatment in these countries are cost savings, a possibility to combine a treatment with a holiday, reduced waiting times, proximity of the countries and language skills (mainly applicable in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium). Despite all Dutch citizens being covered by one compulsory level of basic insurance, the aforementioned reasons cause them to still seek treatment abroad. Due to its growth, the national medical tourism market has an increased number of medical tourism facilitators, as well as specialists performing treatment in countries such as Germany in order to profit from the outbound patient flows. Although Dutch patients spend € 80 million abroad annually, this still only makes up a small percentage of the global market for outbound medical tourism.

The Netherlands
Location Western Europe, bordering Germany and Belgium
Capital Amsterdam
Biggest cities (population) Amsterdam (761,395), Rotterdam (584,856), The Hague (485,818)
Inhabitants 16,558,674
Politics parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy
Religion Christianity (43.4%), atheism (42.7%), Islam (5.8%), Hinduism (1.3%), Buddhism (1%), other (5.8%)
Currency Euro (EUR)
GDP € 585,860 million, 1.44% of the world’s GDP
Official language(s) Dutch
Climate moderate maritime, average temperatures ranging from 5°C in winter to 22°C in summer
Time zone GMT +1, summer time GMT +2
Happy Planet Index (HPI) 43

Cultural Aspects

General Culture

The Dutch society is described as being open and tolerant towards influences from outside, while maintaining its own identity. Dutch people are known to be enthusiastic travellers, with many people spending two or more holidays abroad a year. Although Dutch is the country’s official language, English (70%), German (55%) and French (19%) are widely spoken. 277 Dutch cuisine is a blend of traditional Dutch food, comprising bread, potatoes, vegetables, dairy products (especially cheese), thick soups and deep-fried snacks. There are influences from Spain, Italy, Turkey, Morocco and especially Indonesia and Suriname.


The country ranks 22 on the GPI, indicating that it is a safe country.


The Netherlands’ main international airport is located in Amsterdam with smaller airports in other cities although many citizens also tend to take flights from cross border regions. There is an extensive and well-maintained road network with a large number of highways that connect with the neighbouring countries. International rail connections facilitate travel from the Netherlands to other European countries.

Health Care System

WHO ranking 17
Physicians per 10,000 population 37.0 (2005)
Nurses per 10,000 population 146.0 (2006)
GDP spent on health care 8.9% (2008)
Education period of doctors 6 years
Education period of specialists additional 3 to 6 years

Health Care Providers

There is no division between public and private hospitals in the Netherlands. Instead, the division is made between general, academic and categorical hospitals. General hospitals are those who provide medical specialist care 24 hours a day; academic hospitals provide the same care, but are connected to the medical faculty of a university; categorical hospitals are those who provide medical care and nursing for a specific illness, field of illnesses or patients in a certain age group. In 2007, there were 8 academic, 82 general and 27 categorical hospitals in the Netherlands.

There are two types of private clinics in the Netherlands, namely the independent treatment centres (ZBC’s) and private clinics. The ZBC’s are defined as a co-operation between two or more medical specialists whereas private clinics are co-operations between one medical specialist and non-medical specialists, or between only non-medical specialists. Both types operate independently from hospitals.


The Dutch populous is covered by a basic health care insurance that can be supported by purchasing additional private insurance. 90.4% of the total population has an additional insurance. The basic health care coverage is obligatory by law and the government regulates the content, although it is purchased with private insurance companies. Insurance can be purchased individually or collectively, accounting for 39.6% and 60.4% respectively.

In the Netherlands there is no medical tourism insurance, however, treatment abroad can be reimbursed depending on the insurance company, as several insurers have agreements with hospitals in border regions.


In 2006, there was a reform of the Dutch health care system to create the above-mentioned insurance system. One of the important changes was the introduction of subsidies for people with low incomes.

General Medical Tourism Information

In 2008, a total of 18.5 million foreign holidays were taken by Dutch people. The estimated expenditure by Dutch medical tourists was € 80 million in 2006. The number of medical tourists leaving is not known as many choose to go to surrounding countries, which require no visas. Medical tourism is encouraged by Dutch specialists who work part-time in the bordering countries. These specialists recommend this as a means to reduce waiting times.


There are many facilitators that work within the Netherlands, such as ‘Medical Travel Service’ who provide services to Dutch patients wishing to go to Turkey and ‘Treat & Travel’ who facilitate medical tourism with services in South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.


The main medical tourism destinations for Dutch patients are Germany, Belgium and Turkey. The exact percent distribution is unknown.


  • Cost savings: Dutch people go abroad to seek cheaper treatment.
  • Holiday destination: as Dutch people holiday frequently, combining treatment with leisure could be an incentive.
  • Waiting times: these are in general longer than in other surrounding countries.
  • Proximity: bordering Belgium and Germany are attractive prospects.
  • Language skills: the bordering Belgian areas are Dutch-speaking.


Despite Dutch citizens all being covered by one compulsory level of basic insurance, many seek treatment in neighbouring countries, as waiting times, and sometimes costs, are lower. Thanks to this growing market of medical tourism, the Netherlands boasts an increased number of medical tourism facilitators and specialists who are seeking entrepreneurial opportunities by performing treatment in countries such as Germany. Despite around € 80 million being spent abroad by Dutch patients, they still make up a small percentage of the outbound medical tourism worldwide.

Price Chart (in €uro)

Treatment Average Price
Cardiac bypass N/A
Gastric bypass N/A
Knee replacement 13,281
Hip replacement 11,179
Hip resurfacing N/A
Botox treatment 150
Breast augmentation 4,122
Facelift 5,349
Liposuction 2,633
Dental implants 1,000
Rhinoplasty 2,585
Lasik eye surgery 2,470

Note: All prices are estimates, and may vary widely from source to source depending on services included in the estimate (i.e. doctor’s fees, hospitalisation, administration costs or the patient’s age and medical history). Due to non-disclosure strategies of the various locations, it was not possible to make a clear separation between those factors. All prices given for the specific facilities have been provided by the hospitals/clinics themselves via email or telephone contact. The prices are given in Euros (€).

N/A means either that treatment are not available in the specific hospital, that a price estimation cannot be found or that the medical facility did not disclose the information. For the average prices, printed literature has been used before researching sources on the internet.