You can opt for additional insurance, which covers repayments for non-urgent care in hospital, and the costs of glasses, dental care, vaccinations and registration at a sports club. Alternative or complementary treatments such as homoeopathy, acupuncture, osteopathy and chiropractic are also recognised as reimbursable by the Belgian ministry of health, if the practitioner is a qualified doctor. The content and cost of this insurance varies for each fund. However, it is possible to choose complementary insurance from one of the private companies that come under the umbrella organisation Assuralia.
According to the Belgian National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance, the fixed fee for a general physician in Belgium as of 2014 is €20.92. For members of a mutual insurance association or European Health Insurance Card carriers, this rate is commonly reimbursed by up to 75%. This base price increases if the visit is out-of-hours (nights and weekends) or a home consultation, or if the doctor is a specialist. A doctor can add private fees to this base rate; avoid such charges by asking in advance if the doctor has signed up to the mutuelle/ziekenfonds agreement on charges and applies the base rate (more than 80% of GPs fall into this category).
The majority of dentists in Belgium are in private solo practices, although the number of group practices is rising. It is usual for dentists to provide dental hygiene services when carrying out a routine check-up. They have an agreed fee scale agreement, which sets the level of reimbursement for patients for basic treatment. You normally pay the dentist directly and then send the receipt to your health insurer for reimbursement. For specialist work, such as crowns and bridges, the dentist may ask how you will pay and offer you various quotes. To qualify for reimbursement you’ll need to visit the dentist at least once a year.
The use of physiotherapists following injury or hospitalisation is widespread in Belgium. Physiotherapy is prescribed by a doctor and reimbursed by health insurance funds. The amount a patient has to repay after insurance reimbursement is between €5 and €7. In Belgium, physiotherapists play an important role during pregnancy, during labour and in post-natal recovery. You need a prescription from your GP to receive partial reimbursement.
(photocredits: D. Stojanovic)
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