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Dialysis/ health insurance/ HELP!

Question

Hello all you healthy people :)

I am an Indian woman (27 years old) suffering from kidney failure, I need dialysis twice weekly to live. Currently I am getting this treatment in India while waiting for my long term visa approval.

My husband is Dutch, he is working and has the Symbio insurance.

I will need dialysis the first week of my arrival but from what I have read here - health insurance does not cover the first 6 months?

Please tell me what do severely ill patients like me moving to Belgium, without possibility to wait for 6 months, do? The dialysis treatment per month costs nearly 2400 Euros, certainly something I can't afford.

Thank you in advance!

becasse

The simple answer to your subsidiary question as to what do severely ill patients moving to Belgium do, is that they don't. Belgium, in common with the other EU countries, does not permit "health tourism" at all unless the person concerned has the means or insurance in place to afford it.

Your case is slightly different in that you have a husband who is a citizen of an EU country, albeit not Belgium, and he is currently living and working in Belgium and affiliated to a Belgium mutuelle (Symbio). IF your long term visa application is granted you would be living in Belgium as his dependent (à charge) and covered by HIS mutuelle affiliation and he, presumably, has already passed his 6 month "stage". That said, this is an unusual case and HE should check with Symbio as to exactly what cover they would provide for you. You won't be allowed to live in Belgium without health cover of some sort - insurance or mutuelle - and clearly you are not in a position to obtain insurance for your condition.

That said, once (if) you are allowed to move to Belgium, there will be a period while all the bureaucracy of registration is sorted out, and the mutuelle won't provide any cover during this period which could easily extend to several months.

Note that the mutuelle won't provide 100% reimbursement of your treatment costs and it will be your husband's responsibility to pay the difference - and to pay the total cost short-term while awaiting reimbursement.

Should you subsequently take up employment in Belgium, you will have to join a mutuelle in your own right but, since you will have already been the beneficiary of mutuelle cover, this shouldn't require a 6 month "stage" before cover commences.

Jul 11, 2015 14:50
kasseistamper

Except in the broadest terms you are not going to get much help on this site.
Your husband is the person who should be asking the questions of his mutuelle as they are the people who are going to be deciding how much to pay and if and when they will start.
People moving from within the EU have few problems with the 6 month rule as they will be covered by insurance from their home country. Will this apply in your case? Will whoever is paying for your treatment in India continue to do so for the first 6 months of your stay in Belgium?
Other things to consider are whether you will be allowed to move here at all. There are increasingly close investigations into the reasons for people seeking to move to the EU. The authorities will need to be convinced that your marriage is totally genuine and that it is not simply a means for you to get medical treatment here. And, whatever the realities of your case, unfortunately you have to prove that, on balance, your marriage is a genuine, loving relationship; the authorities do not have to prove that it is not.
And this is not exclusive to Belgium. similar rules apply throughout the EU.

Jul 11, 2015 15:50
becasse

Further to what Kasseistamper has said, I would point out that there is one sentence in your original post which suggests that your visa application may well be rejected. That sentence is "The dialysis treatment per month costs nearly 2400 Euros, certainly something I can't afford."

You are married and you wish to move to Belgium, therefore this cost is a joint responsibility between yourself and your husband - so "we" not "I" - and if you have no income as surely you won't, at least to start with, it becomes totally your husband's responsibility. Certainly the Belgian state offers back up help but this is intended for those already resident who fall on hard times, not for incomers.

The Belgian authorities are certain to be suspicious of your visa application anyway. Your husband is Dutch so he is entitled to work in Belgium, yet he seems to have insufficient income here to support you, so why doesn't he return to the Netherlands and seek a visa for you there? You seem to speak English well but do you speak Dutch, or French, to a standard that would enable you to become economically active (i.e. get a job) in Belgium? Or why doesn't your husband get a job in the UK and seek a visa for you there where you health needs could be met by the NHS?

Jul 11, 2015 20:53
casperisk

Dear all, thank you for your responses.

@Becasse -
My husband's health insurance began in the first week of June, so he also hasn't crossed that 6 months period. Symbio covers my hospitalisation, it says on the papers he received.

It is common knowledge that Mutuelles don't cover any diseases 100%, but for an expensive treatment like dialysis, the regular 75% would also be a great help. Do you know if pre-existing conditions of people coming to live long term in Belgium, are covered by these Mutuelles?

We do have savings which we can use to pay for my treatment while waiting for the reimbursements. But will I at all be reimbursed is what I'm wondering.

@Kasseistemper -
My husband will be speaking to Symbio openly about it, I hope to get accurate information for this special situation. Today was Saturday so their offices were closed.

My family pays for my treatment in India (I don't have a health insurance here either). We pay 500 Euros in cash per month, this is the maximum we can afford and thankfully the maximum cost of my care in India.

I have all the necessary paperwork, history with my husband to prove that mine is not a 'marriage of convenience', if that ever gets questioned. But I'd like to draw your focus on my health related issue here.

@Becasse - I was not asked to declare any health problems on my visa application. The Embassy and the immigration office have not asked me to prove whether I'm healthy yet.

Please for the purpose of this discussion, may I request respondents to hypothesize that my visa is granted. I'd like to redirect your attention to my problem relating to the health insurance confusion.

In that context, as you say the state back up is for residents who fall ill - not for incomers. Is that for a fact? I know traveling specifically for the purpose of getting treatment is not helped by the state - but as you know, I'm not in that category.

I have shown sufficient funds via bank statements of my own (last 6 months) to support myself if I were a healthy person. To the Belgian authorities, I have no financial distress as they don't know I'm ill.

I speak German very fluently. I studied in Germany on a long term visa even before I met my husband.

My husband did look for a job in UK for 6 months, he couldn't find one. He finally found a job in Belgium.

***

So, readers! Please let me know if arriving long term residents are covered the same as common people there. Are pre-existing conditions of these arriving long term residents covered by the usual Mutuelles?

Do you guys know, who finances dialyses in Belgium. The Inami website makes no mention of it, so far as I could I understand the translated site.

Thank you everyone, all input is welcome.

Jul 11, 2015 22:26
J

You will HAVE to ask the mutuelle. You are covered as a family, but I would strongly advise against attempting to move here until you have a clear treatment plan and a clear idea of how to fund it.

Jul 11, 2015 23:48
kasseistamper

'Are pre-existing conditions of these arriving long term residents covered by the usual Mutuelles? '
In my case, though over 20 years ago, they were.
When I moved here to join my Belgian resident girl-friend I was a long-term chronic asthmatic. I was added to her Mutuelle as a family dependent and got continuing medication and treatment from Day 1. In due course I was treated by the Mutuelle as an individual in my own right.

Jul 12, 2015 09:55
casperisk

@ Kasseistamper

Hoping that my questions aren't too invasive, could you tell me:

Were you added to the Mutuelle before you arrived, say when your girlfriend was signing up for it? Or were you added upon your arrival?

Did your girlfriend or you have to declare your chronic condition to the mutuelle?

Has the Mutuelle continued to pay for/ reimburse you seamlessly since then?

What was the process you went through upon your landing, if you still remember?

****

@ Everyone -

I couldn't find any information on the Inami website about kidney dialysis. The only information for kidney patients they have is for kidney patients who are neither on dialysis nor have had a transplant ever. So what does the Inami do for people on dialysis (and all chronic kidney patients will eventually need dialysis to stay alive)?

(I had a transplant last year which failed this month and I am now back on dialysis).

I couldn't even find the cost of a single dialysis session in Belgium anywhere online. Am I missing anything?

Thanks all!

Jul 12, 2015 11:31
kasseistamper

No problem.

My girlfriend had already lived here for over 20 years when I moved to join her so she was registered with a mutuelle. They simply added me as her dependent and I'm sure that it was soon after I arrived. I'm also sure that there was no question asked of either of us as the state of my health but her doctor would have been immediately aware as I soon needed more medication.
I've never had any problem with reimbursements. I've now been here over 20 years and am still taking a range of daily medications.
After I moved here I registered in the commune where she was known - rural Flanders and she had lived there for more than 10 years. The only tiny 'problem' was that the staff there had to deal with the concept of a housekeeper who was male as they had never encountered such a thing before - it was fine for a woman to live with a man if he accepted financial responsibility for her but a shock to their collective system when I turned up!

Check out http://www.uzleuven.be/en for information on dialysis.
This is the site for Gasthuisberg in Leuven which is the biggest hospital in Belgium. I don't know what you will find but I have had extensive dealings with the hospital and found the staff incredibly helpful with English readily spoken at every level.

Good luck.

Jul 12, 2015 12:19
casperisk

@ Kasseistamper

Thank you so much for your input! Even the slightest hope that I may get some cover for dialysis from my husband's health insurance/ any insurance relieves me. I am very grateful for the time you take to reply to my nervous queries.

The UZ website is like other hospitals in that I couldn't locate concrete information on dialysis there. However, it is a great relief to know that a good hospital like this has a nephrology (kidney) department. That they speak English is also very helpful for when I'll be there.

My husband will spend this entire week, during his breaks at work, in calling up hospitals, insurance companies etc. When he has any responses good or bad, I'd get back here for more advice and information.

Thank you, please continue to share any other information should it come your way. I'd really appreciate your continued support.

:)

Jul 12, 2015 15:45
casperisk

Update :

Hi, I thought that I should update that I got my long term visa recently. So the speculation that whether a person in my condition/ situation would be granted a visa is put to rest. I hope this information helps anyone who is in a similar scene.

Once in Belgium, I'll also update on how it went with my health insurance and medical financing.

Thanks everyone!

Aug 15, 2015 10:28