Accessing Healthcare in Belgium

Are you dreaming of exploring the medieval city of Bruges with its 13th century belfry while devouring a piece of two of sumptuous Belgian waffles? How about visiting the renowned Belgian capital of Brussels while chowing on a decadent Belgian chocolate? Or maybe enjoy a fantastic evening of beer and salsa music in the city of Leuven? Wherever you go and whatever you decide to do in Belgium make sure that you have the European Health Insurance Card (formerly E111) to make your health care needs in the country a lot easier and friendlier on the budget, too.

Your small credit card-like EHIC can be likened to your all-inclusive pass to the state-provided health and medical services of Belgium. As long as a recognized and duly-authorized Belgian healthcare official deems it necessary to give you treatment, then you are entitled to such treatments at no additional cost, if such treatments are free to Belgian residents. Otherwise, you will have to pay the same amount as any other Belgian would.

The European Health Insurance system guarantees nationals of EU and EFTA member countries of access to medical facilities and services in each of the 32 participating countries provided that the facilities you seek treatment from is duly funded by the governments of these states. Additionally, while not all health conditions are covered by the EHIC it nevertheless provides ample coverage even for diseases like asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as other pre-existing conditions. Pregnant women who may need routine obstetric care as well as emergency labor and delivery are also covered. However, EHIC will not cover your medical treatment for these conditions if your purpose for traveling to Belgium is simply to seek such treatments. Medical tourism is considered a private enterprise and as such is not covered in a public health care infrastructure like the EHI.

Know then that if you decide to seek treatment for illnesses or injuries sustained while in Belgium, you need a state health care provider, not a private practitioner. Know also that you may be required to pay a certain amount, often depending on the treatment required, which needs to be settled upfront. Don’t worry as EHIC can reimburse as much as 75 percent of this amount while you are still in Belgium. It is also important to know that some Belgian doctors and dentists actually serve both in the public and private healthcare system so it’s crucial to know beforehand whether they will be accepting your EHIC or not.

If you will be in need of emergency services, just dial 112 or 100, toll free. If the operator doesn’t speak English, then you must sayMedischespoeddienst if he or she speaks Dutch. If the operator speaks French, then you say Service medical d’urgence. This prompts the operator to activate the emergency medical services. Understand that while calling for emergency medical services is free of charge, being transported to a hospital in an ambulance is not. Additionally, you definitely would want to bring a phrasebook with you in French or Dutch to better communicate with the doctors and hospital personnel. This way you can be sure that they know your symptoms and other complaints.

If you need to be hospitalized, the daily rate is around 15 Euros which does not include the fee for the medications that will be administered. You will also be made to pay a patient contribution and as such, you will need to present your EHIC as well as your passport. Know that your EHIC doesn’t contain any picture so the hospital will never know if you are who you say you are. That is why you will need to present your passport so you will only be charged the minimal patient contribution fee. Otherwise, your whole hospitalization experience might as well be a very costly one.

If you require medications, make sure that a licensed state physician has written a prescription. Bring your prescription as well as your EHIC to the nearest government- or state- funded or recognized pharmacy to avail of the medications at the same price as any other Belgian. You will be made to pay for your medications, 75 percent of which can be reclaimed or reimbursed even before you return to your home country. To do so, you need to present all the supporting documents related to your care including receipts and prescriptions.

Before going to Belgium, you must apply for your EHIC first. Let MyEHIC help you in your application. It’s the fastest and most convenient way to obtain EHIC.