Healthcare Options in Belgium and Brussels
Belgium has a mandatory and comprehensive socialized health care system, possibly one of the best in the world. Practically everybody in the country is entitled to health care, which is subsidized by the government. People working* in Belgium, both locals and expats, contribute taxes from their salaries, as do the companies, which are used towards funding the social services negating the need for any supplemental insurance. Thus, everybody (including expats) is entitled to health care.
Health benefits are rendered through the use of mutuelles/ziekenfonds, organizations that are tasked with providing health insurance and reimbursing the costs incurred by individuals. These organizations often have political or religious affiliations but generally provide the same coverage, as well as costing about the same. Signing up with a mutuelle is mandatory. Some of the best advice on which to join will come from friends, neighbors and other expats. Over half of Belgium’s hospitals and clinics are privately owned and subsidized by the government and are covered by the mutualites. Below is a list of the mutual organizations and on their website you can find an office near you;
- Mutualite Chretienne (Christian Health Service) – http://www.mc.be/
- Bond Moyson (Socialist Health Service) – http://www.socmut.be/
- Liberal Health Service – http://www.lmvlg.be/
- Independent Health Service – http://www.mloz.be/
- Neutral Health Service – http://www.mutualites-neutres.be/
- Auxiliary Fund for Sickness and Invalidity Insurance – Free service for people not members of a union covering the most basic healthcare. http://www.caami-hziv.fgov.be/
An SIS card is required for all hospital and doctor visits. This carries your social security information and is required to access these services at discounted prices. This card is issued by your mutuellee when you register with it. The healthcare system in Belgium enables individuals to be reimbursed about 75% of their costs when seeing a doctor, dentist, physiotherapist and nurse, as well as buying the most prescribed medications at a pharmacy. In the event of hospitalization, the patient only pays the amount not covered by the policy, usually a small amount, though voluntary costs such as telephone calls and private rooms are not covered.
If you are an expat living in Belgium and want an international health insurance policy, check out our global healthcare page!
Taxes in Belgium are high but the return on the taxes in the form of excellent services makes it unnecessary for expats to consider private or supplemental insurance or affiliation with a private hospital. When coming to Belgium, with a few exceptions, most people from outside the European Union, as part of their visa requirements, need to produce proof of health insurance to insure they are covered during the entirety of their stay in Belgium or the other Schengen states. This will provide them the opportunity to get medical attention should they need it. European Union nationals may access Belgian healthcare services using the E111 social security form until such time as they receive an SIS card.
*Please note that for individuals working for the European Commission and other such organizations different health plans may be in place but generally they will be able to access the same healthcare providers.