Doctors, dentists and medical specialists in Belgium
A guide to finding a doctor, specialist or dentist in Belgium, detailing how to register, make appointments, and claim reimbursements through insurance.
Belgian doctors, both general practitioners and specialists, work in the public and private sector, in private practices or attached to clinics and hospitals. Most dentists in Belgium work in private practice. You will have to pay fees for both public and private treatments but you will be reimbursed in full or part through your state or private health insurance.
Accessing Belgian healthcare services
To access the Belgian healthcare system and receive reimbursements for your treatment, you need to be registered with Belgian social security, and a state health insurance scheme. Read more in Expatica's guide to social security in Belgium and Belgian health insurance.
Choosing your doctor in Belgium
Once registered with the Belgian healthcare system, you are free to choose your own general practitioner or family doctor (médecin / huisarts), or even see different doctors at the same time. The state mutuelle/ziekenfonds system (see our guide to healthcare in Belgium for information) allows you to register or consult with the medic of your choice, so long as they are registered with one of the insurance companies. Make sure you find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable; your insurance may cover you for making an initial appointment with a doctor to assess this.
You should nominate a main doctor to hold a central record of all your medical records (the Dossier Médical Global / Het Globaal Medisch Dossier). You can find a local doctor by personal recommendation or through the Gold Pages (Pagesdor / Goudengids), in French or in Dutch. Many Belgian doctors speak English.
For contact details of local medical professionals or general information or support, you can also contact the 24-hour Community Help Service helpline on +32 (0)2 648 4014 (available in English, French, Flemish, German and Spanish).
Doctors’ appointments in Belgium
Belgian doctors work with appointment systems, walk-in consultations (on a first-come-first-served basis) or a mixture of both. They also make house calls. They often work alone without any administrative staff, so don’t be surprised if he or she takes a phone call during your consultation. Out of hours the surgery will have an answerphone with the name and number of the on-call doctor.
Doctors’ fees in Belgium
Most doctors work within the health insurance scheme (conventionné / geconventioneerd ) and will have standardised prices for consultations and treatments. Some doctors combine this with private work or work entirely in the private sector, in which case you may be charged more or be expected to pay a larger percentage of the costs yourself, as the reimbursement level is the same. So check the fees your doctor charges – they should be on display in the surgery – and be aware that fees may vary according to whether the appointment is in the surgery, in your own home, in the evening or at weekends.
Payment and refunds for medical treatment in Belgium
You usually pay the doctor in full, usually by cash. They will give you a receipt/green treatment certificate outlining the treatment and cost to send to your insurer for a refund. This is usually up to 75 percent although it depends on the care, the provider and your personal circumstances.
Homeopathy, acupuncture, osteopathy and chiropractic treatments are also reimbursable as long as the practitioner is a qualified doctor.
Going to see a Belgian medical specialist
Your general practitioner will also be able to advise you on specialists and clinics but you do not have to have an official referral from a general practitioner to see a specialist. However, if you see a specialist without a referral your costs may not be reimbursed or you could be reimbursed at a much lower rate.
Pharmacies and prescriptions in Belgium
You should take doctors’ prescriptions to a pharmacy (pharmacie or apotheek) – look for a green neon cross outside. You have to pay when you collect your medicine(s) from the pharmacy – minus the set percentage payable by the insurer. Some medications are reimbursed fully while others only up to 20 percent. Read more in Expatica's guide to healthcare in Belgium.
Finding a dentist in Belgium
In Belgium, dentists are called dentistes / tandartsen. You are free to choose your own dentist but most are private so check that they are approved with your health insurer first. They work to an agreed fee scale for basic treatment and some accept part payment on health insurance. Major dental work, such as crowns or bridges, will need prior approval from the insurer. You pay the dentist yourself and then send the receipt/green treatment certificate to the insurer for reimbursement. You have to visit the dentist at least once a year to qualify for reimbursement from your health insurance scheme.
In an emergency
Call the pan-European emergency number 112 (or 114 hearing assisted), free of charge from any phone, for any life-threatening situation. An ambulance will take you to the nearest hospital but you will have to pay for this service.
- Medical service – 100.
- Emergency doctor – 1307.
- On-call pharmacy – 09 001 0500 / 07 066 0160.
Useful phrases (French / Dutch)
- I need an ambulance – J’ai besoin d’une ambulance / Ik heb een ziekenwagen nodig.
- I need a doctor – Il me faut un médécin / Ik heb een doctor nodig.
- Heart attack – crise cardiaque / Hartaanval.
- Stroke – Un accident vasculaire cérébral / Beroerte.
- Accident – Accident / Ongeluk.
- Emergency – Urgence / Spoedgeval.
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