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 visit a general practitioner (GP)
- To find a list of all GPs in your neighborhood, go to www.mediwacht.be or W8post.be. You can go to the GP of your choice
- If you need a GP who speaks a certain language, search for one on en.doctena.be
- If needed, your GP will refer you to a specialist best qualified to deal with your problem or to the emergency service if needed
- Before you go and see a specialist, make sure you know about the statute of the doctor (see attention points)
- In case of life-threatening situations, call 112 or go to the emergency service of a nearby hospital (Heilig Hart Ziekenhuis Leuven or the University Hospital Gasthuisberg Leuven)
- 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 to the GP.
- You do not specifically need a referral from a GP to see a specialist, but without referral, your costs may not be reimbursed, or less reimbursed than if you have a referral.
- The GP has to inform his/her patients about his/her recognition status by the Federal Public Health Office (‘Federale Overheidsdienst Volksgezondheid’) and about his/her accreditation status. This information should be available on the GP’s website or in the GP’s office or waiting room.
- 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 (after reimbursement by the health insurance fund) 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. 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.