Healthcare in Belgium
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Expats can take comfort in the fact that the system of healthcare in Belgium is one of the most reputable and reliable in Europe. Medical facilities in Belgium adhere to high standards of care and hygiene. The country has one of the highest numbers of hospitals and doctors per capita in Europe.
Hospitals and doctors in Belgium generally provide high-quality medical services, pharmacies are widely available and emergency services are reliable. The healthcare system in Belgium is divided between hospitals that are either public or non-profit and private clinics.
Public healthcare in Belgium
The entire Belgian healthcare system is funded to some extent by the Belgian government, which provides funds to mutual health organisations. All employees and self-employed workers in Belgium have to contribute towards a Belgian health insurance fund as part of the normal social security enrolment process.
Expats who qualify for non-resident tax status may not be required to contribute to the national social security system, in which case they will probably be covered by their employer’s private healthcare plan. Anyone who qualifies for public healthcare can consult with any doctor of their choosing, and most doctors will have a good understanding of English.
A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is also a good resource for expats as it entitles European citizens working in foreign countries to the same treatment at the same cost as a national of that country. However, an EHIC card cannot be used within Belgium unless it has been issued elsewhere in the European Union.
Private healthcare in Belgium
Patients using private healthcare in Belgium usually pay the doctor for any healthcare provided and then claim from their insurance provider afterwards. This claim can cover anything up to 75 percent of the costs. Most dentists do not accept state insurance, so expats will likely need comprehensive dental insurance cover.
Private healthcare treatments in Belgium can be prohibitively expensive. For this reason, many Belgians and expats supplement their state medical insurance scheme with a private healthcare policy to cover the difference.
Pharmacies and medicines in Belgium
Pharmacies in Belgium are plentiful and generally operate during regular working hours. Some pharmacies also operate 24 hours a day. A list of nearby pharmacies that are open after hours is usually displayed in a closed pharmacy’s window.
Most over-the-counter medicines are available at Belgian pharmacies. Medical prescriptions must be paid for on collection, and expats should keep the receipt in order to claim the cost from their medical aid. It is also advisable that expats make themselves aware of the generic names of any long-term medication, as brand names can vary from country to country.
Emergency services in Belgium
Emergency services in Belgium are reliable, with generally rapid response times. Aside from the general European emergency number, 112, expats can also dial 100 for medical emergencies. Ambulances are not part of the national healthcare plan but may be covered by private insurance for those who have it.