Avoid getting hospitalized in Southern Europe

Belgian tourists that have to go to hospital in countries like Spain or Greece, often receive a hospital bill which is much more expensive than what it could or should be. That's according to the medical journal De Specialist, which conducted a poll among Belgian health service organisations.

Due to the crisis, many public hospitals are having financial problems and they also have to wait longer before receiving public funds from the government. This is why a number of hospitals are taking matters into their own hands, increasing the rates. "We see that a number of public hospitals are treating patients under a private status. This makes it more expensive for the patients, and the bills have to be paid 100% without delay", says Annie Caron of Mutas, the emergency unit of Belgian health care organisations.

According to De Specialist, this is bad news with the summer holidays coming up. It is also estimated that some 20,000 Belgians have a second home in Spain. "We have started talks with the management of these hospitals, but this is not easy. We are monitoring the situation in a number of hospitals. If nothing changes, we will refuse to further guarantee payments."

Similar problems are being reported in Portugal, Italy and Romania. The Belgian National Health Service advises Belgians abroad to report problems immediately, and to resist the pressure to pay the bill on the spot.