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Precisely what insurance do I need to buy, and what procedures do I need to follow? As an international student, I cannot buy into basic health insurance until I get at least a part-time job. I'm facing quite confusing advice during my research: Some say you can get it just by paying a small fee with no insurance needed, some say you will need private insurance from something like Cigna Global, some say the US prescription won't work and you'll need to get re-diagnosed, some say it will.

Is there a single place to find this information? It would be immensly helpful if it was in English, but I don't mind if it is in Dutch.

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Like phoog, I also suggest visiting a doctor regardless of insurance, like phoog suggested, I'd like to add that this statement:

As an international student, I cannot buy into basic health insurance until I get at least a part-time job.

Is not quite true. That is, you may not be automatically covered, but that doesn't mean you can't get health insurance. The Netherlands is not the US: Health insurance is at least reasonable, and certainly not a massively overpriced mess. You can read more about health insurance for international students here:

IAmExpat: Health insurance for international students in the Netherlands

Please also consult your university's office responsible for student welfare and/or international students' affairs on this matter; perhaps they have some particular arrangement with better pricing for internationals at your university? Or - you can also try and get in touch with one of the health insurance providers (that list may not be complete; Aon/IAK is not there apparently). There's also a insurance plan comparison site but I'm not sure it covers plans for international students.

More specifically, there are a couple of plans targeted at international students offered by LoonZorg. I wasn't insured by them when I was in the Netherlands so I can't comment on the merits of these plans or the company.

One final link: The Dutch Health Insurance system - Wikipedia article for your general education :-)

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I have never tried to get a US prescription filled in the Netherlands, but I would be very surprised if it would work. The prescribing doctor is not licensed to practice medicine in the Netherlands, after all.

However, you do not need to be insured to visit a doctor or buy prescription medicine in the Netherlands. I have done both (albeit some time ago). When they asked for my insurance, I said that my insurance was in the US and that I would pay cash and make the claim myself. I said that mainly because I did not want to listen to a lecture about the need for having health insurance; I don't think they would have refused to treat me if I had said that I was uninsured.

The cost of the office visit was probably 10% or less of I would have expected in the US. The cost of the medicine was also lower than in the US, but not by such a significant factor.

As to the insurance, you can buy US insurance that offers international coverage, though I can't imagine that that would be cost effective. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about getting insured in the Netherlands to know how you would go about buying insurance there or what you would need to buy, but my sense is that this would be the more reasonable option.

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