Belgium provides all its residents (including foreigners) with a comprehensive social security system which covers, among other things, healthcare, unemployment insurance, work-related accident insurance, family allowances, etc. The social security system is divided into three schemes:
Belgian treating doctor You can choose a General Practitioner (GP) OR a specialist doctor to act as your treating doctor. There are different categories of doctors and each one provides patients with a different level of fees.
In addition to the type of doctor you will choose, other criteria will determine the fees such as the type of visit (in office or at home) and the date of appointment (week or week-end/during the day or at the end of the day-evening). Consultation fees may range from €21.09 (basic price for a visit at the doctor’s office) to €82 (for a visit at home between 9.00 pm and 8.00 am) with State-registered doctors.
Belgian GPs You are free to choose your own GP. However you will need to check the conditions required to obtain a consultation beforehand: some GPs provide a standard waiting system based on appointments while others give a ticket to patients when they enter the office, which enables them to regulate visits according to the hour on which patients arrive to the medical office. You should always keep the receipt the doctor gives you after paying, which will serve as a supporting document for your private insurance.
Belgian specialist doctors You will need to visit your treating doctor to see a specialist except in case of emergency, or if you are on holiday/travelling or in the following cases: gynecological examinations, dental or eye care. Your treating doctor will refer you to a specialist doctor (except when your specialist doctor is also your treating doctor). Please note that several weeks may sometimes be necessary to get an appointment.
Being admitted to hospital in Belgium
You are free to choose the hospital and you do not need to have a prescription. There are six different types of hospitals (university, general, mental, convalescent homes, outpatient centers or short-stay centers); each of them has its own organization, infrastructure and funding method. This is why prices vary according to the type of facility chosen.
Public hospitals and private hospitals (known as clinics) are quite similar except that as soon as you arrive in a clinic you will be assigned to a GP who will follow up on your treatment.
Please remember to show your EHIC or your insurance certificate in advance in order to benefit from the direct payment system, even if we cannot ensure that this system exists in all facilities since some hospitals do not recognize all types of insurance.
Buying medication in Belgium
Some drugs are delivered with prescription only and not all drugs are fully reimbursed.
Laure and Robert moved to Singapore in 2014 for work - but they ended up starting a family there too! She told MSH that she was pregnant and was amazed by all the support she got. First she received a practical guide on pregnancy (what to do at each stage, medical exams etc.) and then a member of the team called her to explain all her guarantees personally and advise her on the best place to give birth. The day her daughter was born, a gift pack arrived with a growth chart and a baby toy, with all good wishes from MSH. And now there's another one on the way...
Matthieu was hiking in a canyon in Peru when he accidently fell down several meters and fractured his kneecap and elbow: "After 12 days in a local hospital, I was sent back to France where I spent 2 more weeks in hospital and months in physiotherapy" he remembers. Matthieu's hospitalization, repatriation and rehabilitation expenses were all covered by MSH: "Without my private health insurance, it would have been a nightmare: €16,000 for the hospital and €50,000 for my repatriation with two air ambulances - can you imagine?"
Bill and his family are based in Brazil. Unhappy with his previous insurer, Bill switched to MSH in December 2015: "One of the best decisions I've made since I've been here", he says, "for the level of service and the breadth and quality of the network." Bill's insurance card is now recognized by the biggest and best hospitals in Sao Paulo. He even gets third-party payment for simple hospital tests without needing prior agreement: "MSH makes life easy", says Bill.