Public Healthcare systems vary from country to country and in Belgium it is a mixture of public and private healthcare and the quality of care is generally excellent. The system can appear complicated at the start, especially, if you are travelling from a country such as the United Kingdom and its National Health Service. Health insurance is compulsory in Belgium, and basic cover is part of the national social security system. Everyone, whether they are an employee or self-employed, will join either the state scheme or a private scheme.
When you enroll in a Belgian health fund, there’s a six-month deferral period before you can claim benefits. For EU nationals, it is a good idea to check your eligibility for a European Heath Insurance Card (previously known as an E101) in your country of residence before you travel to Belgium or take out supplementary travel or medical insurance.
There are also differences between the type of cover between employees and self employed, who have the option of obtaining supplementary health insurance through private insurers.
Health fund charges are set and all funds charge the same basic contribution and pay similar benefits with some taking longer than others to make reimbursements. Dependant family members are also automatically covered and these include spouses and children under the age of 18.
In most cases, if you obtain medical treatment, you are likely to either pay a treatment charge or, if covered by health insurance pay the bill and then submit the receipt to your insurer for reimbursement. There are 18 categories of medical procedures and services, and depending on which varying from 0 to 100 per cent cover. A doctor’s appointment, for example, is normally reimbursed at 75 per cent, .Most people do take out supplementary health insurance to cover the unreimbursed portion or to upgrade their cover from the statutory level.
Prescription medicines also have a complex scale of reimbursement percentages and this can be determined by a number of factors, including whether it is an off the shelf item or has to be prepared by a chemist. Alternative treatments are reimbursed on the basis of how they are classed as being socially and medically useful.
Even after sending in receipts and other documents to your health insurer, you should always retain a copy for your own personal records, particularly to ensure you can resubmit a claim should it be lost by your insurer. Collecting receipts over a period of three or six months, and submitting them as one claim can be a better approx than submitting individual claims as they occur. This may be influenced by the size of the claim however.. insurer, and both insurers normally pay reimbursements directly into your bank account.
If you are hospitalised, you will usually pay a fixed daily fee, either in advance or when you’re discharged. All other bills are normally submitted direct from the hospital to your insurer. In the case of medications, it is best to register with one pharmacist so that they can then bill your insurer directly, and you pay only the outstanding amount that is not covered by insurance.