Applying For The European
Health Insurance Card (EHIC) In Belgium

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A free and easy way to enjoy universal healthcare coverage when travelling to any member country of the European Economic Area, including Switzerland, is by applying for your very own European Health Insurance Card. This small, convenient, and very practical piece of document is provided to nationals of countries of the EU and the European Free Trade Association. In some countries, it is automatically provided together with their respective national health cards. For most, however, you have to apply for it. Whenever you go on a holiday to any of the countries of the EEA or even Switzerland, you must carry with you your EHI Card so you will gain access to the universal healthcare programs provided by the country which you are visiting. The treatments can be free of charge or billed to you at a reduced price. However, since the coverage is only for state-mandated healthcare services, you may want to top this up with your own private health insurance especially if you’re considering on spending a week or two travelling to Belgium.

One of the important things you have to understand about the Belgian healthcare delivery system is that it is generally composed of the public and the private sector, like in any other democracy. It can be particularly confusing at times. The good thing is that EHIC aims to eliminate as much of this confusion to make your holiday travels to Belgium as well as the other EHIC country signatories more memorable as possible.

However, it is important to understand that EHIC only covers healthcare costs that are explicitly identified in the universal or public healthcare system of Belgium. This simply means that it does not cover medical treatments or healthcare services that are provided by private healthcare practitioners. So it usually is advisable to ascertain the status of the provider first – if it is under the Belgian public health system or not – as private healthcare costs are not reimbursable in the EHIC scheme.

Now, the term “public” is often equated with “free” services. Unfortunately, not all treatments in the Belgian public healthcare system are free as some will come with a fee. The good thing is that EHIC will allow you to reimburse these costs.

To help you with your reimbursement, you need to ask for an official certification from the Belgian doctor who treated you. This form is called the Attestation de Soins Donnés or the Getuigschrift voor Verstrekte Hulp. The same is true if you seek treatment from a hospital or even a clinic. If you purchased a medication from a state-licensed pharmacy, you need to have your prescription dutifully stamped by the licensed pharmacist and provide you with a receipt of your medication purchase. You need to organize these documents to make sure everything is legal and valid to entitle you to reimburse up to 75 percent of all the cost incurred in your medical care.

Once all of your paperwork are complete, you can then proceed to the Mutualité or Ziekenfonds – the local Sickness Fund Office – and claim your refund. Make sure to present your EHIC and the supporting documents like receipts, certifications, and your prescription.

Some Belgian dentists also accept payment for a fraction of the total cost if you present your EHIC. However, it is always better to ask the dentist before any procedure is to be initiated. Belgian hospitals will also charge you about 15 Euros as co-payment. If you present your EHIC plus your passport, you may save yourself from additional fees. Know also that ambulance services are not covered under the EHIC scheme so don’t expect this to be reimbursed.

If you require oxygen therapy or even renal dialysis during your holiday to Belgium, you can coordinate with local healthcare provider so they can make the necessary arrangements with their Belgian counterparts well in advanced.

Understand that EHIC will not cover you if your sole purpose for travelling is to seek medical treatment. The EU card only covers medical conditions that occur during your visit. Chronic diseases as well as unexpected maternity care are an exception, however, provided you don’t go to Belgium just to give birth or just to receive treatment for your chronic medical condition.

If you think you need immediate medical assistance, you have to call the toll-free numbers 100 or 112. Make sure to have someone who knows how to speak French or Dutch although Belgian emergency services can speak English. They will evaluate your required treatment to see if it cannot be postponed until you return to your home country.