Poverty is hazardous for Belgians' health

30th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

30 November 2007, BRUSSELS - There is an ever widening health gap between the rich and the poor in Belgium. People from lower income groups suffer more from chronic illness, handicaps, depression and sleeping disorders. People with a low level of education have fewer healthy years in their life and they don't live as long either.

30 November 2007

BRUSSELS - There is an ever widening health gap between the rich and the poor in Belgium. People from lower income groups suffer more from chronic illness, handicaps, depression and sleeping disorders. People with a low level of education have fewer healthy years in their life and they don't live as long either.

This is evident from the 2007 Annual Report on Poverty and Social Exclusion, presented Thursday by the University of Antwerp. The difference in the health situations between rich and poor can partly be explained by lifestyle. Poor people tend to smoke more, drink too much alcohol more often, and have worse diets. Another explanation is that poor people live under more stress.

Although the Belgian Health Care System has an excellent reputation, a growing number of Belgians are unable to pay the portion of doctor fees that is not covered by the insurance. Some 17% of poor people say that they postpone medical care because of the cost. Over recent years, medical costs have risen. For poor people, health care weighs heavily on the family budget.

10.7% of the population in Flanders live under the poverty line. Last year it was 11.3%. For Belgium as a whole, 14.7% of the population live under the poverty line (compared to 14.8% last year).

What is the poverty line?
The poverty line for an individual is €850 gross per month. For a couple the poverty level is €1,233 gross per month, and for a single parent with two children, the level is €1,315. Noteworthy is that the number of single parents that live under the poverty line in Flanders has increased from 27.6% to 35.1%.

The 2007 Annual Report on Poverty and Social Exclusion also shows that prevention campaigns often do not reach poor people.

While the number of poor people in Flanders is not growing, the gap between the rich and poor is getting bigger.

The researchers at Antwerp University are calling for more structural measures to help lift people out of poverty.

The current welfare payments are lower than the poverty level. A single person living on full welfare gets some 20% less than the poverty level.

[Copyright Flanders news 2007]

Subject: Belgian news

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