To make use of Belgium’s public healthcare system, expats from the European Economic Area, Switzerland and the UK can apply for access to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This entitles European expats to the same treatment at the same cost as a national of Belgium. However, a card can’t be used within Belgium unless it has been issued elsewhere in the European Union, so expats should be sure to have this in place before they arrive.
Anyone who is employed in Belgium has to contribute towards a Belgian health insurance fund as part of the normal social security enrolment process. Most expats opt to top up this cover with some form of private insurance which entitles them to a wider range of treatments and shorter waiting periods.
Expats should find out whether they qualify for ‘non-resident’ tax status in Belgium. If this is the case, they may not be required to contribute to national social security and will probably be covered by their employer’s healthcare plan.
Hospitals in Belgium are either public or non-profit, while private clinics, usually managed by universities or religious organisations, offer basic treatment for minor ailments. Most doctors in Belgium work in both types of institution, while dentists are almost all private.
Most private health insurance policies in Belgium allow patients to choose their own medical professionals and hospitals. Private medical facilities in Belgium adhere to high standards of care and hygiene across the board. Most doctors and other medical professionals will also have a good understanding of English, so communication shouldn’t be much of an issue for the majority of expats.