Becoming Dutch: The Huisarts Drama

When do you become Dutch?

No, it does not really start when you pass your inburgering toets and got your Dutch passport.

It starts with your first appointment to the huisarts – the Dutch doctor!

Until my first check-up, I was very impressed with the Dutch health care system – how organized the centralized system is, how nice it is that everybody has a health insurance and that you can basically pay everything with it and how convenient that they have emergency lines which you can call during holidays, weekends or if you are in desperate need for an answer.

Before I go on with my story, let me first tell you that I am a buitenlander an immigrant and that my Dutch husband has been living in the Philippines for three years. He came back to the Netherlands in 2008 and a year after, I joined him. We were only able to find a house after I came to Dutchland. We have to start from scratch.

When we moved to this house in the city, our first priority was not really health care. We are a young couple, determined to make it on our own, working our ass off to pay the bills that are pouring in non-stop on our mailbox – mortgage, association fee, electricity, gas, garbage fee, name it.

On Christmas day, I had a worrying medical condition. It is not a near-death situation, just a woman’s problem that can make you go suicidal. Since it will be impossible to get hold of anybody who can actually give me an advise, I decided to wait two more days until the holiday is over.

On December 27th, I started calling the emergency. I got several refusal for appointments for one main reason – I am not registered in their clinic  so they cannot accommodate me. It was a painful rejection because at that time, I was already so stressed about my condition and a medical advise, even if it says that I only have one day to live, would ease my mind. At least I know what I have right?

It was long ordeal – looking for the huisarts that will accomodate me – some of them told me that they can’t register me because I am out of their “operating zone”, that I don’t live near their area. When I finally found one which was just a 10-minute walk away from my house, immediately made an appointment. And they told me the same thing, I should register first.

At the clinic, they gave me the registration papers which I have to mail to them and only after two days can the doctor can see me. That is another three days of waiting, if I am lucky enough to get squeezed in to the doctor’s schedule.

I waited for 3 days and on December 29, I called them. Guess what they told me? The doctor was on a holiday!!! And  they didn’t have a replacement which I was told later was quite odd because they were supposed to have one.

Two weeks after, I was finally able to get hold of the doctor. And that was after two weeks of sleepless nights, suicidal tendencies, consecutive fights with my husband and a visit to the ziekenhuis (hospital) at 9 in the evening where they tested me for different things and got a advise that it is probably nothing. (Gynecologist said “if we dont call you, then your result is negative.” They did not call)

Post script – the visit to my own doctor

Again I was checked by my doctor who did not really explained things to me. He told me that he will do another round of tests (very similar to the ones I had in the ziekenhuis) because he doesn’t trust the results *which shows I have normal condition. Of course I got worried again.

The result will come in after three days. I went to the clinic Tuesday and expected the result on Friday. I called Friday and the result was not there yet, better to call Tuesday to be sure. I called Tuesday (one week after) and it wasn’t there yet. Called again the next day. Wednesday came and the result was not there, doctor was a bit surprise and promise to call the lab. Finally, one week after I was supposed to get the result, it came, which are again, normal. And all the time I was under extreme stress and having nightmares. Very sensitive, right?

Anyway, to make the long story short, couple of days ago, I got the bill of 150 euros, for all the stress and ” advise” I got from the doctor which really didn’t answer my questions

And I also recieved a bill from the emergency line for the advise they give. The advise was – go and see your doctor.

This is the Dutch healthcare system for all of you wanting to move here.

My advise? If you just moved in, first thing you do is register yourself with a doctor. You never know when you’re going to get sick.