Note: this section applies to people with a Dutch health care insurance policy only.

Primary health care is the term for all care that a patient can have access to directly, without a referral. A GP, a dentist and a physical therapist are examples. The GP, especially, is a kingpin in primary health care. She or he decides the care that is needed and has the authority to refer to specialists. The process after the referral is called secondary health care.

The fact that this type of care is directly accessible, does not mean that it is automatically reimbursed by basic health care insurance. For example, to have dentistry or physical therapy costs covered, one needs additional insurance. The GP is an exception: this care is fully reimbursed by the basic policy and the costs are not deducted from deductibles.