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How to Enroll in the Public Healthcare System in Belgium

A primer on how to enroll in the public healthcare system in Belgium.
How to Enroll in the Public Healthcare System in Belgium

If you’re planning to enroll in the public healthcare system in Belgium, this article covers the requirements for foreigners to be able enroll in the public healthcare system, the steps involved and more.

Belgium is renowned for its high-quality healthcare system, known as the Belgian Social Security System. This public healthcare system is mandatory for all residents, including foreigners who have been living in the country for a certain period. The system is funded through social security contributions and taxes, ensuring that everyone has access to affordable healthcare. The quality of healthcare in Belgium is considered to be one of the best in Europe, with a wide range of services available, from general practitioners to specialist treatments and hospital care.

Eligibility for the Belgian Public Healthcare System

Foreigners are eligible to enroll in the Belgian public healthcare system if they are legally residing in the country and are contributing to the social security system. This typically means that you must be employed in Belgium, although there are exceptions for students, retirees, and others. EU citizens can also use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for access to necessary healthcare during a temporary stay in Belgium. However, for long-term residents, it is advisable to register with the Belgian Social Security System.

Steps to Enroll in the Belgian Public Healthcare System

  1. Register with your local town hall: When you move to Belgium, you must register with your local town hall (maison communale/gemeentehuis) within eight days of your arrival. You will need to provide proof of your identity and address. Once registered, you will receive a National Register Number, which is necessary for the next steps.
  2. Obtain a job or prove your status: To be eligible for the Belgian public healthcare system, you must be employed in Belgium or prove your status as a student, retiree, or other eligible category. Your employer will typically handle your social security registration, but if you are self-employed, you will need to register with the social security institution for self-employed (INASTI/RSVZ).
  3. Choose a health insurance fund: There are several health insurance funds (mutualit├ęs/mutualiteiten) in Belgium, and you are free to choose the one that suits you best. These funds are responsible for reimbursing your healthcare costs. You will need to pay a membership fee, which is usually deducted from your salary.
  4. Submit your registration: Once you have chosen a health insurance fund, you will need to submit your registration, along with any necessary documents. This typically includes your National Register Number and proof of employment or status.
  5. Receive your SIS card: After your registration is approved, you will receive a Social Identity Card (SIS card), which you will need to present whenever you access healthcare services. This card contains all the necessary information about your health insurance coverage.

It’s important to note that while the Belgian public healthcare system covers a large portion of healthcare costs, it does not cover everything. Most residents also have supplementary private health insurance to cover additional costs, such as private rooms in hospitals or certain specialist treatments. As a foreigner, it’s advisable to consider this option as well.

Overall, the Belgian public healthcare system provides comprehensive and high-quality healthcare services. By understanding the enrollment process and ensuring you meet all the requirements, you can take full advantage of this excellent system.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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