If you are moving abroad to live in Belgium you may be wondering if you will need to get your own health insurance once you get in the country of if it is something that is provided by the government. Depending on what country you are coming from you may find it a bit shocking that it is mandatory that you have health insurance in Belgium. That means that if you are living in the country you are required to have health insurance. It is not like living in the United States where you have the option of getting it if you want it or if you can afford it. However basic health care coverage is provided by the Belgian national social security system. But you will still need to have your own health insurance.
If you will be taking up employment in Belgium then you will be making contributions to the national social security system. Both employees and employers have to make obligatory contributions. Typically most of the various forms of public assistance that are available in Belgium, such as unemployment benefits, maternity benefits and old age pensions, are funded by contributions that have been paid in by the employee and employer. This also includes the basic health care coverage that is offered by the Belgian national social security system.
If you are a foreigner that will be coming to the country and will not be working upon arriving you will need to show that you have health insurance before you will be granted a residence permit by the authorities. If you do not already have a health insurance coverage plan then you should be able to find one that is specifically designed for expatriates. Typically these types of insurance plans are valid in several countries as they are designed with the traveling expat in mind. Note that if you are given non resident status in Belgium that you will not be required to contribute to the national basic health care coverage plan, which means that you have no entitlement to the services that it provides.
Once you are enrolled in the basic health care coverage or your own health insurance plan in Belgium you should note that there is typically a waiting period of six months before you can actually claim any benefits. If you have been previously covered in the country under another plan, for instance as a dependant on someone else’s plan, then you may be able to get that waiting period waived.
They way that health insurance works in Belgium is that you typically pay for whatever health care services you are seeking up front. Then you will file a claim for reimbursement with the insurance company. Usually the amount you are reimbursed is less than you have paid, so you should be prepared for that.