New rules “will make healthcare more accessible”

Important changes come into force today that should make it easier for poor people to visit their GP. Previously those entitled to higher repayment percentages on their bills had to first pay up front before receiving part of what they had paid back from their health mutual.

Although this will still be the case for those not entitled to higher repayment percentages, poor patients will now only have to pay the difference between the doctor’s fee and what they would get back from their health mutual. It is hoped that the new rules will make it easier for poorer people to seek medical help.

The changes to the so-called third party payment system had been in a transitional stage since June. Despite the changes some poorer people will still have to pay up front when they visit their GP as software issues means that there have been delays to the roll-out of the new system.

Once the software issues have been resolved the new third-party payment system will be compulsory everywhere.

Around 1.9 million people will benefit from the new system.The Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal, photo) says she believes that the new system will “make healthcare more accessible for a group of people that has a lot difficulties.”

Previously the third-party payment system was a none-binding arrangement between doctors and patients. Patients had to ask for it and doctors could always refuse.