Medical costs to increase by hundreds of euros for 80,000 patients

For 80,000 vulnerable patients, medical costs could rise by hundreds of euros each year from 1 January onwards due to the sixth Belgian state reform introduced in 2011.

As a result of the sixth Belgian state reform, certain medical costs fall under the remit of Flanders. They are no longer taken into account to determine whether patients are entitled to protection from the federal health insurance. As a result, some patients will have to pay more themselves.

This concerns, for example, some costs incurred by patients in retirement homes or rehabilitation centres. Because Flanders now regulates this, these costs are no longer taken into account when determining whether these patients are entitled to certain protective measures from the federal health insurance.

Ceiling

Patients who annually have more medical costs than a fixed maximum or 'ceiling' receive a premium, or no longer have to pay out of their own pocket. People with long-term illnesses are also entitled to a 'health care package' (EUR 300 to 600) regulated at federal level if their medical costs are too high.

Now that Flanders is responsible for them, some patients are less likely to have a chance of receiving these benefits. In addition to the elderly or sick, it can also affect children or adults with specific disorders, or drug addicts.

According to Paul Callewaert, director of the Socialist Mutuality insurance, about 80,000 vulnerable patients, such as the long-term sick, will have to pay hundreds of extra euros each year from their own pockets. "A state reform should ensure that people benefit from it. In this case, that is certainly not the case," he says.

The sixth state reform actually dates back to 2011. Until the end of 2019, a transitional arrangement was laid down. Until now, the costs in retirement homes and rehabilitation centres were still included in the federal protection measures. However, the transitional period ends on 1 January and no new regulations have been drawn up so far.