What you need to know about the Belgian health care system

This document describes in a nutshell how the Belgian Health care system works and what you need to do to get enrolled.

Action steps

  • Subscribe to a health insurance (also called mutuelle/ziekenfonds) to get access to partial reimbursement of your medical costs. The majority of these funds are historically linked to the country’s political parties, but they are accessible to everyone. 
  • If applicable, subscribe or ask your company to subscribe to an additional insurance that reimburses costs which are not fully covered by the national health insurance.
  • Be aware that at first there is a six-month waiting period from the date of subscription during which you are insured but not entitled to receive replacement income from the health insurance fund. During this period, you can check with your employer what to do (which insurance you can take) or during your stay in the hospital, you can ask the social service of the hospital for help.
  • If you are an employee with benefits in another EU country or Switzerland, you will be covered during this period.
  • Check your insurance coverage before making arrangements with doctors to know your personal contributions.

Attention points

  • How do I have to pay the contributions?
    • If you are a salaried worker, contributions for the Belgian social security system are withheld from your income. You nevertheless still need to subscribe to a health insurance (‘ziekenfonds’ in Dutch)
    • If you are self- employed you need to register with a social security fund of your choice
  • The Belgian health care system covers basic healthcare reimbursements for doctor, hospital and medication costs. For more information, contact your health insurance.
  • Whichever fund you have a membership with, you will always have to pay part of the costs yourself. The reimbursement is the same for each fund as they act as ‘intermediaries’ between the national health care system and its members.
  • The content and fees for additional health and hospitalization insurances vary between insurance companies. Check carefully what the terms and conditions are of the policy you want to purchase
  • The European Health Insurance Card is a free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country. It is not an alternative to travel insurance and does not guarantee free services

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All internationals and their family members living in Belgium in need of medical care and who are covered by Belgian social security

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