In Belgium you have a choice of healthcare providers* which gives you direct access to both specialist and hospital care. You are also free to look for a second opinion* or change healthcare provider if you wish. At that, Belgian healthcare facilities* are not only quite freely accessible but they are also widely available.
Physicians in Belgium enjoy therapeutic and diagnostic freedom which means that, in consultation with the patient, they can decide on the most appropriate treatment.
The Belgian healthcare system boasts a wide range of healthcare providers, in terms of numbers, geographical distribution and diversity.
Please find below an overview of the healthcare providers* in Belgium. This website does not contain any information about long-term care or assistance with routine matters (because these matters have not been dealt with by European Directive 2011/24/EU)
- Physicians (Doctors) > General practitioners (GP) | Specialist physicians
- Dentists > Dentists | Specialist dentists
- Pharmacists > Pharmacists | Hospital pharmacists
- Nursing auxiliary
Furthermore, 4 non-conventional practices* have also been regulated in Belgium:
Various bills to recognise and protect the professions below are currently on the table:
- Clinical orthopedagogists
- Clinical psychologists
The list of the various healthcare professions* have as characteristic that each profession is individually defined by the law (Royal Decree, R.D. in short, no. 78 of 10 November 1967 concerning the practice of healthcare professions : Dutch version or French version).
The obligated individual recognition and registration procedure and the agreement of the required accredited diplomas of healthcare provider for each health profession is a guarantee that the professional in question has successfully followed the specific accredited professional training programmes, shows evidence of continuous learning and that the regulatory requirements have been satisfied.
The healthcare practitioners* listed in this law are obliged to have their diploma formally registered. The Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment (FPS Health) registers and delivers a licence number* that authorises access to practise.
The aim of the recognition is to protect the patient and the title of the health care practitioner; to guarantee the quality of care by the care provider and to protect patients against fraud.
The law describes what an individual healthcare provider* is allowed and not allowed to do. The various groups of healthcare professions are only allowed to provide those services that are specific to their profession. To illustrate, only an officially recognised practitioner of pharmacy (pharmacist) is authorised to prepare and sell medication. Any person who does not meet the recognition standards or did not receive a licence to practise the healthcare profession in question and who furnishes a variety of healthcare services* or portrays himself to be a recognised healthcare provider will be charged with the unauthorised practice of the profession and will be prosecuted under criminal law.
Some individual healthcare providers may carry particular professional titles* or refer to particular professional qualifications*. To obtain these titles or qualifications, they must meet a number of criteria and have been recognised by the competent minister.
As a patient, it is important that you make sure that an individual healthcare provider is legally authorised to practise his/her profession. Healthcare providers are furthermore obliged to inform patients about their recognition status*. To establish whether a particular healthcare provider is legally entitled to practise his/her profession, a call centre has been put at your disposal.
Persons affiliated to the Belgian National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (Dutch version RIZIV or French version INAMI) are entitled to reimbursement of the cost of healthcare services, treatments and fees provided the services in question meet certain requirements. Not every healthcare profession or service is entitled to reimbursement. A list of reimbursable services or “acts”* for each profession, the so called “nomenclature*" assigns a specific code to each act that determines the financial cost and is used as a base for the reimbursement of the costs.
Persons affiliated to a healthcare insurance in another country than Belgium, must contact their personal health insurance delegate or their national contact point for cross-border healthcare to receive information about the procedures for reimbursement of health services, treatments and fees delivered in Belgium by recognised health care providers.
Every year the Cell ‘Planning and offer of healthcare professions” of the FPS Health publishes a statistical report of the recognised and registered healthcare professionals by number, evolution, sex, age and their regional, provincial geographical spreading
These reports can be consulted here.
* see Glossary