There are four different types of health insurance policies in the Netherlands: restitutie, natura, budget and combinatie. They differ considerably from one another, in particular when it comes to the size of the premium you pay and the number of care providers contracted by your insurance company.
You will have to decide between the following types of policy.
The restitutie policy: more choice, relatively high premiums
If you take out a restitutie policy, you can choose your care provider yourself. You can choose to go to a hospital nearby or to consult a specialist located further away. As a patient, then, you have freedom of choice. You pay your care provider upfront and ask your health insurance company to reimburse you. It will reimburse the cost of any care covered by your basic health insurance package, regardless of the practitioner you have consulted. Insurance companies have contracts with large numbers of care providers for this type of insurance.
If you opt to consult a non-contracted care provider, your insurance company will reimburse the average rate charged for the type of treatment you receive. If you take out a full restitutie policy, it will even reimburse the entire amount. You will, however, still be obliged to pay the deductible/excess first for most care covered under your basic health insurance package. The restitutie policy is the most expensive type of health insurance when it comes to the premiums you pay.
The natura policy: less choice, relatively low premiums
Under a natura policy, you can only consult care providers that your health insurer has contracted to provide planned care. After treatment, you do not need to pay anything; your health insurer pays the care provider directly. Insurance companies have contracts with large numbers of care providers for this type of insurance. If you require care, you can choose one of the contracted care providers on your insurance company's list. You will sacrifice some freedom of choice for full payment of your medical costs, but you will also pay a lower premium than for a restitutie policy. You can opt to consult non-contracted care providers under the natura policy as well, but you will usually only be reimbursed for some of the costs if you do. Once again, you will be obliged to pay the deductible/excess first for most care covered under your basic health insurance package.
The budget policy: little choice, lowest premiums
As in the case of the natura policy, insurance companies that offer a budget policy have concluded contracts with various care providers. The budget policy only allows you to consult a small (or very small) number of care providers. If you consult a contracted care provider, your insurance company will simply pay the bills. If you consult a non-contracted care provider, you will often have to pay at least 20% of the bill yourself. The budget policy is the cheapest type of a health insurance but it can have adverse financial consequences for you as the policyholder. It is like a natura policy, but with much less choice. Once again, you will still be obliged to pay the deductible/excess first for most care covered under your basic health insurance package.
What you need to know about/should watch out for concerning budget health insurance policies
The combinatie policy: part restitutie, part natura
The name says it all: this type of insurance is a combination of a natura policy and a restitutie policy. Under a combinatie policy, your insurance company will pay contracted care providers directly for some types of care, as under the natura policy, whereas in other cases, you will have to pay the care provider yourself and claim a reimbursement later, as under the restitutie policy. Your insurance policy will tell you which treatments fall into which category. Once again, you will be obliged to pay the deductible/excess first for most care covered under your basic health insurance package.
The Pro Life policy
Basic (compulsory) health insurance covers procedures that some people object to on principle. Those who do can contact Pro Life, which offers health insurance policies that exclude abortion, gender reassignment, euthanasia and other procedures. Here too, you will be obliged to pay the deductible/excess first for most care covered under your basic health insurance package.