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Seeing a doctor in Belgium: how it works
General practitioners (médecin/ huisarts) are found in private practices or attached to clinics and hospitals. You can consult with whoever you choose. Many doctors in Brussels and Flanders have a good understanding of English. If you need a doctor outside normal practice hours, visit or call a duty doctor (médecin de garde/ wachtdienst). If proximity is important, see mgbru.be or geomed.be for information on doctors in your area.
The fixed fee for a visit to a general physician in Belgium in 2019 is €21.79 (€26.27 if accredited). For members of a mutual insurance association or European Health Insurance Card carriers, this rate is commonly reimbursed by up to 75%. This increases if the visit is out-of-hours (nights and weekends) or a home consultation, or if the doctor is a specialist.
A doctor can add private fees to this base rate; avoid such charges by asking in advance if the doctor has signed up to the mutuelle/ziekenfonds agreement on charges and applies the base rate (more than 80% of GPs fall into this category).
Medical centres house several general practitioners and specialists and can offer immediate availability. Family planning centres exist in Brussels and are a viable alternative to a gynaecologist. You may arrange to see a specialist of your choice; it’s not essential to have a referral from a general practitioner.
The waiting time for an appointment with a specialist varies enormously. Specialists work either in a hospital or in private practices. To find the kind of hospital you need in your area, see hospitals.be.
To find a pharmacy (pharmacie/ apotheek), just look out for the green cross signs. They are open from Monday to Saturday and provide emergency 24/7 cover on a rota system. You can find this rota online. Medicines available without prescription are not refunded by your health insurance fund. Chemists may issue a receipt for reimbursement purposes if you are unable to provide information about your health insurance or your national insurance number. In this case you can send the receipt to your insurance company for reimbursement.
Chemists are obliged to sell a generic medicine, unless the GP has specified on the prescription that the medicine should not be substituted.