More Belgians receiving medical treatment abroad

According to figures released by the Independent Health Mutual Fund, the number of Belgians seeking medical treatment in another EU member state has risen by 20% since 2011. Most of the Belgians seeking medical treatment in another EU member state do so in neighbouring countries with Germany topping the list.

Despite more of us being given treatment abroad, most Belgians aren’t well-informed when it comes to how to claim back the cost incurred for treatment in foreign hospitals.

In 2014 3,445 Belgians crossed our borders to visit a doctor or to buy medicines. The vast majority of these did so to seek ambulant treatment that doesn’t require special permission from their heath mutual fund.

80% went to Germany, mainly as a result of the IZOM project that allows those living in Limburg and Liège provinces the opportunity to go to German or Dutch specialists if they fill in a special form. Many people from the German-speaking region in the east of Liège Province take advantage of this in order to get treatment in their own language.

While Germany accounts for 80% of those seeking treatment abroad, France accounts for 11% and the Netherlands and Luxemburg 5% each.

According to the most recent figures from the European Commission’s Eurobarometer, 67% of Belgians believe that they are entitled to the repayment of medical cost incurred in another EU member state. However, the reality is much less clear cut.

The Independent Health Mutual Fund’s international cases expert Christian Horemans told the press agency Belga that “Our study reveals that those that seek medical treatment abroad without the permission of their health mutual fund are repaid on average just a third of the medical costs they incur.”

Mr Horemans advises those considering seeking treatment abroad to first contact their health mutual fund as “forewarned is forearmed”.