How does healthcare work in Belgium?

Great question!

Healthcare is partially funded through the social security contributions that you pay on your salary. This will cover 50-75% of your cost of treatment. Though this rises to 80% when it comes to prescription medication.

You can sign up to state-sponsored health insurance, commonly known as your mutualité or mutualiteit, which will let you claim some of your costs back. If you’re not a fan of paying part of your medical costs, you can take up private health insurance to cover all of the costs.

Once you have this in place, you’re covered for trips to the doctor, hospital and dental care. You’ll also receive maternity care as part of the insurance, provided that you have been insured for a qualifying period of time before becoming pregnant.

Applying for public health insurance

This is the easy bit. As the public health insurance is paid from your salary, your employer will do much of this for you. If not, then you will need to register yourself at your local social security office.

The only thing you need is an eID card, which you will receive as part of your visa application. You may then select one of the public health insurance companies to use. There’s little difference between them all. They mostly are formed around a specific political or religious group.

Note that, if your employer is handling the health insurance process for you, it’s common for them to sign you up to the company which they work with. But, as mentioned, all mutualities are reliable.

Taking private health insurance

If you prefer to have all costs covered, or have a pre-existing condition, it’s worth considering taking out private health insurance. This may cover your medical costs completely, giving you peace of mind around your health.

It’s worth asking your employer if they offer private health cover, so be sure to check before you sign-up yourself.

As with any insurance, there are many providers, and we recommend check to ensure which providers meet your needs. Some, for example, offer family plans to cover your spouse and children, whilst others offer international cover. Ideal if your job sees you travelling regularly.

What about this Zorgkas thing?

If you’ve been in Belgium a while, you might have found a bill for the Zorgkas landing on your doormat. But what is it and do you have to pay? In a word: yes.

In Flanders (not Brussels or Wallonia), all persons aged 25 and over must pay an annual contribution of €62 to the Zorgkas, or Vlaamse Zorgverzekering. It is not an optional thing.

This payment is additional to your own contributions to the mutualité and goes towards paying healthcare costs for those who aren’t able to or who need additional support. Think of the elderly, people who are chronically ill or those with additional care or mobility needs.

What’s next?

With all of your insurances and documents in place, it’s time to choose a family doctor and a dentist. It’s even possible, if you want, to register with multiple doctors, though you will need to pick one to hold your records.

You can find doctors on the Golden Pages website, though we would suggest asking colleagues or friends for recommendations. It’s common practice for you then to have an initial consult with your new doctor, just to ensure that you’re happy with them.

Where it’s fairly easy to find a GP local to you, dentists tend to have waiting lists for new patients, so try and register as soon as you arrive. It’s no fun trying to find a dentist when that sore tooth is playing up.

Accessing services

With all of your insurances in place, you’re ready to go. Most doctors work on an appointment system, though some do permit walk-ins, on a first come, first served, basis.

To access medical services, you need only present your eID card. From there, the provider can check the insurances that you have.

As a rule, you will need to pay for treatment at the point of consultation. These costs may then be claimed from your insurance provider, less any deductible. Just ensure to get and keep your receipt from the treatment, as you will need to submit this to your insurance provider with any claim for reimbursement.

Mental Health Services

And of course, sometimes it really is just a case of feeling a little lost and lonely in your adopted home country. Being able to talk to someone can make all the difference when you’re feeling anxious, are struggling to adapt to your new life abroad, or if the kids are playing up.

CHS, the Community Help Service, has a free 24hr anonymous helpline staffed by highly trained volunteers as well as an expert professional team of psychologists, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, and coaches. Help is only a phone call away.

With that, you’re all setup for healthcare in Belgium.

Of course, we wish you good health and hope you never need it! If you hit any issues with setting up your healthcare, we’d recommend speaking to one of our members. Our relocation specialists are experts in helping people like you move to Belgium and settle in. You can find a list of all our members here.

ABRA Members CM and Partena Business & Expats are both national health insurance providers, or mutualités.

Whereas ABRA Members Expat & Co and Vanbreda Eurinsurances offer private health plans especially designed to meet expat needs.

 

 

 

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