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Alternative medicine in the Netherlands: Everything expats need to know

(Editor’s note: This post on alternative medicine is brought to you by Backbone Eindhoven, a new chiropractic practice focused on expats. You can read more here about Backbone.)

Health care in the Netherlands is regulated by the government and is relatively affordable compared to many other countries.

Everyone living in the Netherlands is required to take out basic health insurance. If you want your insurance to cover more medical costs, such as alternative medicine, you
can add this to your health care plan for as little as €10 extra a month.

Here’s what you need to know about alternative medicine and health insurance in the Netherlands.

What is considered alternative medicine in the Netherlands?

Alternative medicine can be a great compliment to other forms of medicine and care. What is considered alternative medicine in the Netherlands may differ from what is considered alternative medicine in the United States or other countries and vice versa.

Various forms of medical care are considered alternative care in the Netherlands, including but not limited to chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy and osteopathy. Often, these forms of medical care are regarded as alternative care here because there is no official university course for it.

For example: you cannot study chiropractic care in the Netherlands, so the chiropractors you visit with here studied abroad to get their degrees.

What does your insurance cover?

When you move to the Netherlands you are required to sign up for Dutch health insurance. Basic plans cover a lot of medical costs compared to health insurance in other countries, including visits
and treatments by a general practitioner, pharmaceuticals, hospital care and emergency transport.

However, they do not cover alternative medicine and care. If you want to visit with a chiropractor or another medical specialist that is excluded from the basic plan, you can add alternative care to your health insurance plan. Additional insurance policies differ for each health care provider.

When looking for the company and insurance policy that best suits your needs it is helpful to check zorgwijzer.nl. This website, which is available in English, compares the different companies and insurance policies and is a helpful tool when you are moving to the Netherlands and trying to figure out our health care system.

How much will I pay?

Your health insurance costs in the Netherlands are made up of two things: your monthly premium and the ‘eigen risico.’ The latter is a yearly amount you have to pay out of your own pocket for
certain treatments before your health insurance will cover it. In the U.S., it’s called your deductible.

For 2017, this is €385.

The eigen risico (own risk) does not apply to everything. For example, visiting a general practitioner is always covered by your health insurance. All costs that are covered by your additional health plan, including alternative medicine, are also excluded from the eigen risico.

Something else to watch for is just how much of your medical costs for alternative care your health insurance will cover and which types of alternative care it covers. Your chiropractor or other
medical practitioner usually needs to be registered with an official association for their profession in order to be acknowledged by your health care provider.

One American chiropractic patient has an alternative care addition to her monthly plan which covers up to €750 per year. The plan, through OHRA, pays €45 per chiropractic visit, which leaves her paying out of pocket only €12 per adjustment.

The staff at Backbone email the invoice before the patient even leaves the office, which she uploads that day to OHRA online. OHRA reimburses the €45 within a business day or two and makes the deposit directly to her bank account.

“It’s so refreshing after dealing with American insurance companies,” she said. “Reimbursement is typically within 90 days if the cost isn’t appealed by the insurance company. The fact that my adjustment only costs €12 AND I’m immediately reimbursed makes it so easy to navigate!”

When can you visit a practitioner of alternative medicine?

Your general practitioner in the Netherlands is not very likely to send you through to a practitioner of alternative medicine. However, for most forms of alternative care, including chiropractic, it is not necessary to have a referral letter from your GP and you can just make an appointment on your own.

Most practices, such as Ruggensteun – a chiropractor with offices in Eindhoven and Valkenswaard – do not have waiting lists, and you can get an appointment within a few days or on the same day.

About Backbone Chiropractic Eindhoven

Backbone Chiropractic just opened a new Eindhoven practice focusing on the expat community. The office is located at Jeroen Boschlaan near the intersection of Tongelresestraat and Insulindelaan.

You can schedule your initial consultation by email: planning@backbonechiropractic.nl

You can also call the Eindhoven office at 040 711 7282.

You may also make an appointment at the Valkenswaard office if that is more convenient for you. The address is Eindhovenseweg 201, and the number is 040 201 3553.

Backbone has all the latest technology, including full body and foot scans and offers consults to adults, children, and babies.

Before or after your consult you can take a seat in the massage chair and take a moment out of your day to relax.

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