Anyone living and/or working in Belgium is obliged to take out health insurance. Students are usually insured as dependants (of their parents).

How is your health insurance organised?

1.  You are insured as a dependant (of your parents) under the following conditions:

  • You are under 25.
  • Your parents are entitled to a family allowance.
     

2.  Are you over 25 or no longer registered as a dependant of your parents?

Co-habiting or married students may be registered as a ‘dependant’ of a partner who has health insurance. If you still live with your parents (or by yourself), then you will have to organise your own health insurance. You can do this as a student or a resident.

There are two ways to get health insurance:

  • You can register either with one of the five health insurance providers ('ziekenfondsen' or 'mutualiteiten' or with the Hulpkas voor Ziekte- en Invaliditeitsverzekering (HZIV), a public social insurance institution.

The HZIV?

The HZIV offers only the basic mandatory insurance and does not provide any additional insurance plans. Registration is free if your legal place of residence is Belgium and you have no official income. If you do have an income, then your contributions will be adjusted to your income. Specific conditions apply to students whose legal place of residence is in another country. You can obtain more information from the HZIV.

The health insurance providers?

The health insurance providers do offer additional insurance plans which allow you to extend your basic health insurance. You have to pay a contribution for this additional insurance, called the 'mutualiteitsbijdrage' or health insurance contribution. In exchange for this contribution you will receive additional benefits, services and compensation for payments made , including for vaccinations, contact lenses, corrective eyeglasses, personal alarm systems, speech therapy, orthodontic treatment, ambulance transport, osteopathy, chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, some implants, hospital stays, sports club membership, births, adoptions, dental care, youth holidays and care residences.

In addition to this you can also receive assistance abroad, use childminder services, get home education for sick children, and request medical material. Contact the health insurance providers for an overview of the services offered. The health insurance contribution you have to pay depends on the health insurance provider you are registered with. If you are registered as a student then you will have to pay a fixed amount on top of your health insurance contribution (= €63,12 per quarter in 2019). You can also be registered as a 'resident'. If you have no official income then you will only be required to pay the health insurance contribution. Additional health insurance is not mandatory but you will have to take it out if you choose to register with one of the health insurance providers. You cannot register with a health insurance provider if you do not pay your contribution. 

Additional hospitalisation insurance?

Many people take out additional hospitalisation insurance in order to limit the risk of expensive hospital bills. You can request such an insurance plan from your health insurer. Private insurers also offer additional hospitalisation insurance plans (such as  Ethias)

Health care insurance?

Anyone over 25 living in Flanders (except international students), or not living in Belgium but subject to Belgian social security, must register with a health care fund ('zorgkas'). The Government of Flanders recognises seven certified health care funds.  All of the health insurance providers have a certified health care fund. 

‘Living’ in Flanders means being registered in the National Registry or in the Register of Foreign Nationals for a city or municipality in Flanders. If you are insured by HZIV then you cannot register with a health insurance provider. In that case, you will have to take out health care insurance with the Vlaamse Zorgkas.

When (and how) can you obtain health insurance as an international student?

Your registration and the reimbursement of your medical expenses in Belgium depend on your country of origin.

Are you a resident of an EEA country?

As the resident of an EEA country you will have to obtain a European Health Insurance Card from your own health insurance provider before travelling to Belgium. You should only contact a Belgian health insurance provider if you have incurred medical expenses (when buying medication, seeing a GP, and so on).
 
If you see a GP or a specialist then you will receive a receipt or 'getuigschrift voor verstrekte hulp'. Take this receipt and your European Health Insurance Card to the health insurance provider. Don't forget to give them your bank account number too. If you only have a foreign bank account then bring the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and BIC or SWIFT code along, as well as your international passport.
 
If your foreign health insurer cannot issue a European Health Insurance Card or if you receive a different document then you will probably have to register with a Belgian health insurance provider. In this case, you should contact a health insurance provider as soon as you can after arriving in Belgium. Take along the document, your bank account number and your international passport. They will look into registering you and find out if you have to pay a contribution.

Healthcare during the transition period for British nationals:  Your government says that there will be no changes to healthcare access for UK nationals visiting or living in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland before 31 December 2020. You can continue to use your EHIC during this time, as you did before. An EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. You can consider a travel insurance before you leave your country. You can continue to use your EHIC in the country you were visiting on 31 December 2020 for the duration of your visit to that country. https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-ehic-european-health-insurance-card/

Are you from the Netherlands?

If you go abroad to study, you can continue to pay for your basic health insurance in the Netherlands as long as you do not work on the side and are under 30. It doesn't matter how long you stay abroad for your studies - nothing changes. 
 
The EHIC (= European Health Insurance Card) will provide sufficient coverage. If you decide to work on the side, however, the situation changes.  You will then be considered economically active abroad and as a result you will lose your right to basic health insurance coverage in the Netherlands. 

Is your country of origin outside of the EEA?

If you are a non-EEA national and you come to Belgium to study then you need to be registered in the Belgian Registry of Foreign Nationals and Belgian health insurance is mandatory. You will also be required to pay a contribution. Depending on your personal situation you have two options:

  • Insurance registration as a ‘student’: this option is mainly designed for students who will be studying in Belgium for a short period of time. You need to obtain a certificate from your institution which states that you have enrolled in a programme.
  • Insurance registration as a ‘resident in Belgium': most students can register as a resident. Condition: you need to have a (temporary) Belgian foreigner's card.

Proof of identification for health insurance purposes

Your eID will be proof of your identification for the health insurance. If you don't have an eID you will get another electronic pass. You will need the eID at the hospital and when buying medication in a pharmacy. Keep it somewhere safe. 

Which expenses are reimbursed?

The Belgian health insurance system reimburses (Belgian) medical expenses. On average, the health insurance system will reimburse 75% of your expenses. How much is reimbursed mainly depends on the nature of the service provided and on the status of both the insured person and the care provider.
 
In most cases the full amount will not be reimbursed. You will often be required to pay a personal contribution, the so-called 'remgeld' or patient contribution. In principle, the personal contribution amounts to 25% of the expense but this may be higher depending on the type of care provided. Some (essential) medical expenses are reimbursed in full.  
 
Expenses are reimbursed after the fact by the legal health insurance providers on the basis of your receipt or 'getuigschrift van verstrekte hulp'. Attach an identification sticker (which you get when you register with a health insurance provider) to the receipt and take it or send it to your health insurance provider. In case of emergency, you can also go to A&E at the hospital. However, you should only do this if it is really necessary. At weekends and out of office hours, you can see a duty doctor.

Ambulatory care: GPs, specialists and dentists

In Belgium you are free to choose your own care provider. GPs have their own private practices or may be affiliated with a hospital. Always bring cash with you to pay the doctor. You will be required to pay the doctor's fee immediately at the end of your visit. Very few doctors accept bank card payments.
 
If you see a GP or require medical care, in principle you first have to pay the total amount in exchange for a doctor's certificate or receipt. You then take this document to your health insurance provider, who will reimburse part of your expenses. Please note that some care providers negotiate fixed tariff agreements with the health insurance providers (= geconventioneerde artsen).
 
The GPs, dentists and other doctors who sign these tariff agreements are bound by this convention. They commit to charging the agreed tariffs unless you, the patient, have particular requirements, i.e. if you want a special consultation. There are also doctors who do not sign these agreements (= niet-geconventioneerde zorgverstrekkers). They are free to set their own fees, which are often higher than the official tariffs.

What's more, GPs and dentists can also choose to be 'gedeeltelijk geconventioneerd', meaning that they only adhere to the provisions of the agreement at certain times and on certain days and/or in certain locations. We recommend that you enquire about the status of your care provider beforehand to avoid unpleasant surprises when you receive your bill.

Medication

The rules are different in a pharmacy. In a pharmacy you will not be required to pay the full amount when you have a prescription from a certified doctor. Instead, the pharmacy will immediately apply the reimbursement tariffs (third-party payer system). All you have to do is pay your own contribution. The legal health insurance system reimburses some medications. Ask your GP for more information. To have these medications reimbursed you will need a doctor's prescription and a valid eID card or another electronic pass.

Which information does the prescription include?

The doctor's name - the patient's name - the medication prescribed - the doctor's stamp and address - the date and the doctor's signature. Take your prescription and your SIS or health insurance card with you to the pharmacy.

Which expenses are not reimbursed by the legal health insurance system?

 The legal health insurance system does not reimburse all medical expenses. Below is an overview of the most frequently incurred expenses: all supplements charged by care providers who have not signed an agreement with the health insurance providers, supplementary expenses for a single or double room during a hospital stay, ambulance transport and so on. Some health insurance providers will reimburse some of these expenses depending on the additional services and benefits they provide. Ask your health insurance provider for more information.

Hospitalisation (and outpatient treatment)

Your personal contribution to hospitalisation expenses is primarily influenced by the hospital and the type of room you choose. Staying in a single room is significantly more expensive than staying on a ward. Enquire beforehand and always bring your eID card with you. This will enable the hospital to invoice your health insurance provider directly and you will only have to pay your own contribution.

How much does health insurance cost?

A student from an EEA country who has a European Health Insurance Card can register with a Belgian health insurance provider without having to pay a supplementary contribution. All other students will be required to pay. The price depends on your status (student or resident) and your income. The health insurance provider will check which option is the cheapest for you.

More information?

Contact one of the health insurance providers or the HZIV. You are free to choose your own health insurer. They all work according to the same rules.  The contribution you pay may vary slightly but the differences are minimal. 

  • Nationalestraat 111, 2000 Antwerp (Christelijke Mutualiteit)
  • Rubenslei 4, 2018 Antwerp (Partena)
  • Minderbroedersrui 19, 2000 Antwerpen (Liberale Mutualiteit)
  • Oude Vaartplaats 50, 2000 Antwerp (Onafhankelijk Ziekenfonds)
  • Nationalestraat 130a, 2000 Antwerp (Socialistische Mutualiteit ‘De Voorzorg’) 

Information for international students 
All of the above information is also relevant for you.