How to choose a doctor?

The general practitioner (GP) or huisarts or huisdokter is your first point of contact for all types of medical care in Belgium. Consequently, one of the first things you want to do after arriving in Leuven is find a GP. 

Action steps

  • If you have a health-related problem, you should first visit a general practitioner (GP) or huisarts.  In Belgium you are completely free to choose your own GP.
  • Not all GP's take on new patients. Find a GP or group practice near you before you actually need one and verify his/her appointment system.
  • To find a list of all GPs in your neighbourhood:
    • for inhabitants of East-Brabant including Leuven, go to KHOBRA.
    • ask your public health insurance fund or ziekenfonds for a list of GPs in your area.
  • If you need a GP, dentist or specialist who speaks your language, consult (but not all doctors are registered on Doctena!). This platform also allows you to book online appointments with your GP.
  • If needed, your GP will refer you to a specialist or to the emergency service.
  • Before you go to a specialist, check if the specialist is geconventioneerd ("conventioned") or not (see attention points).
  • In case of life-threatening situations, call 112 or go to the nearest emergency room (ER) (spoeddienst in Dutch). Leuven has two ERs, namely at Heilig Hart Ziekenhuis or the University Hospital Gasthuisberg.
  • For medical problems during the evenings or on weekends that can't wait but are not life threatening, go to the after-hours medical service call 1733 (unless you have an international phone provider, then call +32 2 524 98 89).

Attention points

  • Many GPs in Belgium work with appointment systems, some also offer hours in which you can consult the GP without an appointment, check with your doctor's office to out when those hours are. Doctors also make house calls if you are too ill to come to the practice.
  • Most Belgians have one fixed GP or vaste huisarts. Once you have found a GP you feel comfortable with, ask him/her to create a ‘Global Medical File’ (Globaal Medisch Dossier or GMD). This has some advantages: the GP can follow up on your health, and with this GMD you will pay less.
  • You do not necessarily need a referral from a GP to see a specialist, but without a referral, your costs may not be reimbursed, or you might be reimbursed less. There may also be a longer waiting time without a referral.
  • In the Belgian health care system there are agreements about the cost of health care. These agreements are made between health insurance funds and health care providers.
    • GPs and specialists can choose if they follow the agreement or not.
    • If they agree, they follow the convention (in Dutch geconventioneerde artsen). In that case your personal part in the medical cost is minimal.
    • If they do not agree to follow the agreement, they have the possibility to charge higher fees (niet-geconventioneerde artsen).
    • GPs adhering to the standard federal fees have this information displayed in their waiting rooms and on their website. Several health insurance funds have an online tool to check whether GPs and specialists follow the convention or not. Your health care provider can also inform you about this.

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Last updated on 11/08/2022


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