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Belgium Health Insurance


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At the crossroads of Western Europe, the Kingdom of Belgium, with a population of 10.4 million (CIA, 2012) is nestled between France and the Netherlands, bordering the North Sea. Belgium showcases a rich history, captured in well-preserved medieval architecture, fascinating castles and gothic cathedrals. Known as the ‘essence of Europe’ Belgium is famous for its mouth-watering chocolates, scrumptious waffles and variety of beers, with the latter brewed into more than 800 different flavours. The capital, Brussels is the administrative heart of both NATO and the European Union, influencing the city’s make-up, with more than 20percent of the city’s population estimated to be foreigners, many working for international entities. Adding to Belgium’s social and cultural diversity is the variety of languages spoken throughout the country. Dutch, French and German are all officially recognized languages, although English is also widely spoken. Similarly, Belgium’s landscape is also diverse, from the Ardennes hills located in the south and an intricate network of canals, to northern plains covered in marshes. As the country has few natural resources, Belgium imports large quantities of raw materials to manufacture for export, and is therefore vulnerable to world market volatility. However, the private-enterprise-based economy is modern and open, supported by a diversified industrial and commercial base, and a highly developed transport network. Capitalizing on its central geographic location, Belgium has benefited significantly from its proximity to Germany, and relies heavily on trading with European countries, with which roughly three-quarters of its trade occurs.

Belgium Health Care and Insurance

Belgian’s have access to high-quality healthcare facilities, which routinely rank as some of the best in Europe. The quality and scope of healthcare in Belgium means that almost any medical situation can be addressed at several facilities, especially at the large university hospitals. Both public and private hospital facilities operate within the sector, staffed by well-trained doctors subject to strict rules governing on-going professional development. Not all facilities provide emergency services however, and some that do provide such treatment are not always open 24 hours a day. Those presenting at a hospital are generally wait-listed if non-emergency care is required. Upon arrival at a hospital, patients without a social insurance card and Belgian identification card are requested to show proof of private comprehensive health insurance prior to treatment being administered. The level of care available in Belgium is reflected in health outcomes of the populace and quality of life indicators such as life expectancy, maternal and infant mortality rates. Estimated life expectancy in Belgium is statistically among the best rates in the world at 76 years for men and 82 years for women (CIA, 2012). Maternal mortality at 5 deaths for every 100,000 live births, and infant mortality at 4.28 deaths for every 1,000 live births (CIA, 2012) are also strong indicators of quality living and health conditions, and are some of the best in Europe.

Belgium has effectively created a flexible, public-private partnership in the form of a national social security scheme to pay for health care. Health insurance in Belgium is mandatory, which is partially funded by employers and employees contributing a portion of an individual’s gross salary to the scheme. Cover for dependent family members, pensioners, those on maternity leave and the unemployed is automatically provided without requiring contributions; however, this is only true of citizens. Foreigners immigrating to the country without a job must provide proof of international health insurance before being issued a residence permit. The government forces this requirement on all expatriates due to treatment being otherwise relatively unaffordable without coverage. Many expatriates who are working and contributing to the national health scheme through their employment arrange additional insurance cover over-and-above that available under the scheme, as any insurance benefits do not apply outside of Belgium, exposing individuals to significant healthcare expenses if a medical situation arises whilst relocating or travelling to another country. Those new to Belgium’s national social security scheme must wait six months before claiming for medical treatment, unless previously covered under a scheme of another EU country; another reason to ensure continuity of coverage through having a comprehensive health insurance policy is in place.

Medical services such as hospitalisation, rehabilitation services, pregnancy and childbirth, specialist treatment and prescriptions are covered under the national scheme. Benefits for the self-employed only extend to ‘major risks’ which the Government determines as mental illness, cancer, tuberculosis, hereditary diseases, childbirth, birth defects and most types of surgery. The country has a complex system for medical reimbursements. Eighteen categories are defined for procedures and services, with each having a specific level of reimbursement attached to it, varying from zero to 100percent of costs covered. For most, a co-payment of 25percent applies for doctors’ visits. Patients must pay fees for general practitioners and specialist services directly to the medical facility or their doctor at the time of each visit, except in the case of low-income patients. The majority of citizens arrange additional Belgium health insurance in order to have a higher level of coverage allowing them to arrange reimbursement of out-of-pocket payments and claim for costs not covered under the scheme, such as ambulatory services.

Despite comprehensive coverage of physician care, acceptable wait times for non-emergency services and free choice of general physicians and specialist doctors, Belgium faces a number of challenges with its health system, particularly around dealing with the future cost of healthcare. Aggregate health expenditure is expected to continue rising, and is most likely to grow at a greater rate than inflation. In addition, over the next 25 years the number of elderly relying on the health system will more or less double, putting increased pressure on government finances to maintain quality of care. Affordability of social security, sustainable development and the integration of migrant works and asylum seekers are also challenges which the government is expected to address.

Belgium travel   Belgium's medical insurance industry is a fast paced ever evolving market however our staff are experts and at your disposal.

Expatriates and Travelers in Belgium

Belgium Travel Insurance Concerns

Measles transmission is still common in Europe, as with many parts of the world. Those who remain unvaccinated are at risk of contracting and spreading the highly contagious disease. Due to this risk, those travelling throughout Europe, including to Belgium are recommended to have routine childhood vaccinations if not already administered or up to date. The US Centers for Disease Control also recommends the pre-exposure vaccine for Hepatitis B for those traveling to or residing in Belgium. Costs of treatment for illness or injury in the country is considerably high, therefore international medical insurance is required to cover such expenses and guarantee repatriation to a home country should a medical condition necessitate such action. Ambulatory services in Belgium can be contacted by dialing 100.

Expatriates and visitors should be alert to minor crime. The rate of serious crime in the country is low; however, motorbike-mounted criminals are increasingly common, breaking vehicle windows and snatching valuables from passengers while cars are stationary at traffic lights. Muggings and pickpocketing are also common, especially in the capital and particularly around the major transport hubs. Should Belgium police assistance be required, the number for emergencies is 101 for police and 112 for distress calls from a mobile telephone. Demonstrations frequently occur in the capital, most often aimed at the offices of NATO, the European Union and specific embassies. Demonstrations can be large and occasionally turn violent, prompting travel advisories to warn nationals against attending rallies and advising that any relevant areas be avoided when protests are possible. . Belgium shares a threat of terrorism with the rest of Europe, specific threats have been made and terrorist acts conducted on infrastructure and in public areas frequented by foreigners in major European cities. The authorities have arrested a number of individuals in Belgium for terrorism related offences over recent years and interrupted several planned attacks As with the rest of Europe, expatriates and visitors are advised to maintain a sensible level of security consciousness in Belgium, staying informed of potential risks to personal safety and monitoring local information sources for any heightened levels of threat.

Belgium Expat Health Insurance

Public health services in Belgium are extensive and of high quality, however the cost of treatment is considerably expensive. Private insurance is purchased by a significant portion of the populace to cover services not included in the national scheme. Those looking to permanently reside in Belgium are required to provide proof of insurance before being issued a residents visa. International Medical Insurance delivers a comprehensive range policies including medical evacuation and repatriation benefits, as well as cover for private hospital fees, general practitioner costs and maternity services. To ensure the cost of medical treatment in Belgium does not result in financial burden, contact an International Medical Insurance consultant for an obligation-free quotation.