What do I pay for prescription drugs?

The price you pay for a pharmacist to fill your prescription depends on the cost of the drug itself and the pharmacy service charge. Health insurers and pharmacists set these prices together. So the cost of a drug depends on your health insurer, your insurance policy and your pharmacist. Ask your pharmacist how much of the cost is reimbursed.

Pharmacy service charge

Your pharmacist may charge you for:

  • checking whether the doctor has prescribed the correct unit dose and dosage;
  • checking whether the new medicine could interact with any other medication that you use;
  • dispensing the medicine;
  • explaining how the medicine is to be used.

How much the service charge is depends on how many tasks or checks the pharmacist must perform, and when the medicine is dispensed. The service charge may be higher for medicines dispensed outside regular office hours (evenings and weekends).

Free pricing system for medicines

The government does not fix the prices of medicines. These are set in negotiations between health insurers and pharmacists. This means a pharmacist may charge different prices for the same medicine, depending on who the patient’s insurer is. 

Paying for medicines up front or afterwards

If your pharmacist has a contract with your health insurer on providing pharmaceutical services, the bill will go directly to your health insurer.

If there is no such contract, you will have to pay for the medicines yourself, but you will be able to claim these costs from your insurer later. You can also choose to go to another pharmacy that does have a contract with your health insurer, but you will need a new prescription.

To find out which pharmacies and dispensing family doctors have service contracts with your health insurer, go to your insurer’s website.

Finding information about cover for medication

You can find information about cover for medication on Medicijnkosten.nl (in Dutch). This website tells you:

  • whether the medicine is covered by the standard health insurance package;
  • what part of the cost will be deducted from your excess;
  • whether you have to pay part of the cost (co-payment);
  • if a cheaper alternative is available for which your insurer provides full cover.