International and European researchers and their access to national health insurance coverage in the Netherlands

Nuffic (the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education) and SOFIE (Sociaal Fiscaal Internationale Expertise) have heard concerns from many universities and research institutes about the national health insurance coverage of European and international researchers and their family members in the Netherlands. Nuffic and SOFIE have found that it is not always clear why coverage is rejected for a particular person under the Health Insurance Act (Zorgverzekeringswet; Zvw) and Long-term Care Act (Wet langdurige zorg; Wlz). Particularly, the term “resident” (ingezetene), which is used to specify the scope of insured persons, is open to ambiguity. It has been noted that the assessment criteria for Wlz (Long-Term Care Act) used by the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) to determine whether one is insured lack clarity. In case the conditions for ‘residency’ are not met on the basis of this ‘Wlz-test’, the researcher may only obtain private health insurance which is reported to come with challenges, such as exclusions for certain medical conditions and the possibility of high premiums. The issue revolves around researchers who reside and/or work in the Netherlands in various contractual configurations in Dutch universities or research institutions. Due to the lack of clarity and uncertainty surrounding the health insurance coverage, Nuffic and SOFIE have reached out to ITEM to investigate the matter. This research (legal and impact analysis) examines the complexities of the Dutch health insurance system for international researchers and their family members. It highlights the legal, financial, and political considerations that are involved, and questions the desirability of the current set of laws and regulations.

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