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: one is for salaried workers, another is for self-employed workers and the last one is dedicated to civil servants.
For foreign nationals, Belgium has entered into social security agreements with many other countries. These agreements allow expatriates to continue to be covered by the social security system of their home country for a certain period of time but only in the public system. You will find all necessary information on the following State portal: https://www.socialsecurity.be/CMS/en/coming_to_belgium/index.html
Visiting a doctor in Belgium
Belgian treating doctor You can choose a General Practitioner (GP) OR a specialist doctor to act as your treating doctor. As you can see by clicking here, 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. You should keep the receipt given by the pharmacist in order to be reimbursed by your private health insurance or by the Belgian healthcare system. To find out more information about the drug reimbursement in Belgium, please go to the following State portal.
Get your health insurance for Belgium
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