How to choose a doctor?
This document describes the different types of doctors you can find in Belgium and where to find them.
- If you have a health-related problem, you should first visit a general practitioner or huisarts (GP). In Belgium you are completely free to choose your own GP
- Not all GP's take on new patients. Find a GP near you before you actually need one and look into how the appointment system works
- To find a list of all GPs in your neighborhood:
- If you need a GP, dentist or specialist who speaks a certain language, search for one on en.doctena.be (not all doctors are registered on Doctena!). This platform also allows online appointments
- If needed, your GP will refer you to a specialist or to the emergency service if needed
- Before you go to a specialist, check if the specialist is geconventioneerd or not (see attention points)
- In case of life-threatening situations, call 112 or go to the nearest emergency service (spoeddienst). Leuven has two ERs, namely at Heilig Hart Ziekenhuis or in the University Hospital Gasthuisberg
- For medical problems in evenings or weekends that can't wait but are not life threatening, go to the after hours medical service: consult W8post.be, call 1733, or consult 1733.be.
- A visual overview of where to go at which time for inhabitants of East-Brabant (including Leuven) can be found here.
- Many GPs in Belgium work with appointment systems, some (also) with time slots in which you can consult the GP without an appointment. Doctors also make house calls if you are too ill to come to the practice.
- Most Belgians have one fixed GP. 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 Global Medical File you will have to pay less.
- You do not necessarily need a referral from a GP to see a specialist, but without referral, your costs may not be reimbursed, or less reimbursed.
- In the Belgian health care system there are agreements about the cost for health care. These agreements are made between health insurance funds and health care providers.
- GPs can choose if they follow the agreement or not
- If they agree they follow the convention (in Dutch geconventioneerde artsen). In that case your own contribution is minimal.
- If they do not agree they have the possibility to charge extra fees (niet-geconventioneerde artsen)
- Lists with GPs adhering to the standard federal fees have to be displayed in each waiting room in hospitals and on their website. Several health insurance funds have an online tool to check whether a general practitioner follows the convention or not. The general practitioner can also inform you about this.
Suppliers, channels and tools
- Website with address details of health care providers:
- Website with details of GPs on call during weekends, evenings and festive days: W8post.be ; www.1733.be