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In discussing this topic –health insurance in Belgium, we shall as well talk about Belgian health care system for a clearer understanding of the topic.

The Belgium healthcare system

The health care system in Belgium represents one of the best in Europe. This is why it ranked ninth out of 89 countries on the overall quality of its healthcare system. Austria, Denmark, Spain, and France are the only European countries to rank higher in the 2019 health care index.  It has a robust system of funding through compulsory health insurance and, social security contributions. Its health care system is run by the federal public service for health, food, chain safety and the environment. Also, the regional waloon, Flemish and German-speaking communities have their individual administrative healthcare divisions

Belgium as a country achieves near-universal coverage. This is by the OECD data, which states 99% of Belgian residents can access treatment through the public healthcare system.

Health insurance in Belgium

Health insurance in Belgium is on the sponsorship of the Belgium government. Thus, all residents generally subscribe to the state-owned health insurance schemes for health insurance. This affords them the benefits of claiming partial reimbursements or indemnity of their medical bills/ costs in country as well as other European countries. Similarly, some residents equally buy personal/private health insurance policy as a supplementary coverage with respect to their personal share of their medical bills. That is, the share that are not covered by the state-sponsored public health insurance scheme. This is because what the government provides is partial reimbursements and not full. The combination of the public health insurance policy and the private insurance policy will enable you claim full cost of your medical bills or expenses.

Public health insurance in Belgium

The Social Security Office is the first point of call with respect to public health insurance in Belgium. As a result of this, residents of Belgium must first register with the social security office before they can access public healthcare which is the body that partially funds Public health insurance in Belgium

Consequently, the moment you’ve registered for social security, you will need to equally subscribe for one of the various Belgium public health insurance schemes. These are known as mutuelles (in French) or ziekenfonds (in Dutch). The requirement for joining one of the health insurance schemes is compulsory for anyone who would want to receive health insurance coverage in Belgium. This will entitle you to receive reimbursements ranging fro 50% to 75% of your medical bills.

People who can receive public health insurance in Belgium

The under listed people are those who are entitled to receive health insurance coverage in Belgium and they include;

Employees and self-employed workers:

It is compulsory that all employed and self employed persons in Belgium must join the state health insurance scheme. Therefore, at your commencement of works in Belgium especially for foreigners, it is either you subscribe to the state health insurance scheme or present evidence of private insurance.

Short-term visitors:

Short term visitors of the European Union/EEA and Switzerland citizens undertaking European health insurance card (EHIC) in Belgium to access emergency treatment either free of charge or at a reduced cost. But other visitors will have to check the requirements with the Belgian embassy in their home country which in most cases insist on private insurance as a requirement before a grant of Belgian visa or permit.

Spouses and children:

In Belgium, once you have joined the state health insurance scheme as an  Employee, the policy  automatically  covers your children up to the age of 18 and dependent spouses who do not have their own policy.

Pensioners and non-workers: 

In Belgium, pensioners who are Expatriates may claim state Belgian health care through their home country. However, this is only possible if you clarify what your entitlements are before relocating to Belgium, as you must provide evidence of health cover when registering for residency in the country.


In this category, students of European Union extraction receive coverage through the state health insurance system of their home country. However and for Non-EU students, it is only those whose home country has agreement with respect to health insurance coverage that will be able to receive coverage. It is there necessary to check whether your country has an agreement with Belgium or not. Thus, in the absence of any such agreement, you will need and have to purchase personal health insurance cover on your own.

Non-EU residents:

Belgium has agreements with some other countries outside the European Union. These countries are more than 20 and include USA, Canada, Australia, and Japan and others. The essence of these agreements is to ensure that their citizens access the same healthcare as Belgians.

What is covered by Belgian public health insurance?

Doctor and hospital visits:

In Belgium, once you have joined the health insurance scheme and you seek medical treatment, you are free to visit any doctor or hospital, not minding the location. This is particularly beneficial to expats who have received recommendations from colleagues for a high-quality English-speaking doctor.

Maternity care:

Belgian health insurance covers the cost of maternity. This extends to the cost of having a baby for those that have insurance for a sufficient amount of time.

Dental care: 

In Belgium, dental health care is subject to partial reimbursements, and if and only if the dentist is on a state-approved list. In the case of a more complex treatment, such as surgeries, crowns and bridges, you will usually be required by the dentist to pay on the basis of the work required. The consent of your insurer is necessary at this stage.

Private health insurance in Belgium

Like we have discussed above, public health insurance in Belgium cover between 50% and 75% of your medical costs and as a result of this, many residents also buy private health cover to take care of the remaining costs. This is particularly useful if you have an existing medical condition. Similarly, some employers in Belgium also provide supplementary health cover as part of their employee benefits package by way of private health insurance. The cost of private health insurance varies, so it’s important to thoroughly research your options prior to committing to a specific package.

Moreover, if you have children, it’s necessary you seek specific family packages which may help lower the overall cost of their medical care and treatments. This is because Children don’t generally receive coverage under private insurance plans, unlike with state health insurance. Also, if you are a frequent traveler abroad, you may wish to purchase a package that covers your medical expenses while away out of your home country. Some of the largest private health insurance companies in Belgium include; Allianz care, AXA- Global Healthcare, Globality Health, and Cigna Global.


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