News - February 7, 2013

Unfair fine for foreign student without insurance

Many foreign students are unfairly fined for not having a health insurance in the Netherlands. The Dutch labour party is concerned and has asked questions in parliament.

All 15,000 international students in the country are required to take out health insurance, writes Transfer, the magazine on internationalization in higher education. The magazine approached eight universities, including Wageningen, and concluded that some students no longer want to study here because of problems with the Dutch health insurance laws.
So what is going on? Since 2006 everyone living or working in the Netherlands is required to take out a basic health insurance. An exception was made then for foreign students under the age of 30, because they usually have a health insurance at home which covers treatment here. But as soon as they start earning any money from a job on the side or an internship, foreigners are expected to take out a Dutch insurance.
350 euros
The problems started in 2011 when the Health Care Insurance Board (CVZ) started tracking down people who didn't have a basic health insurance. But because the CVZ cannot see which students do not have a job, a large group of foreign students found an unjustified fine for 350 euros on their doormats. It is possible to appeal against the fine, but it is a time-consuming process. What is more, it is complicated for anyone who doesn't speak Dutch.
All this, claims Transfer, makes the Netherlands less attractive to foreign students. For this reason, MPs Mohammed Mohandis (Education) and Lea Bouwmeester (Health) have asked the cabinet how students who do not need to have a Dutch health insurance can be filtered out of the system.