Elderly healthcare in Belgium

retired couple
Updated 2021-12-20 10:42

In 2020, around 2.2 million Belgians were over the age of 65. While this isn't a huge part of the population, it's predicted that the senior population will only grow in the coming years. And naturally, both you and your loved ones will need elderly healthcare at some point, so it's important to know your options in Belgium.

In this country, health insurance is mandatory. You can also get supplemental health insurance policies, which can help cover any specific health conditions you might have.

The public healthcare system

Like everyone else, pensioners (meaning those over 65) are covered by the public healthcare system, which is funded by both social security and health insurance contributions. This means they get the following coverage:

  • 50-75% for seeing a doctor (in a private practice, clinic, or hospital)
  • 20% for prescriptions
  • Basic dental care

Home help services

It's best if seniors remain at home for as long as possible since they're in a familiar environment. It's also easier for their family members to check in on them and perform small tasks if needed.

For this scenario, there are home help services available. These home aids can help with things like chores, shopping, cleaning, meal prepping, washing dishes, and more. You can either have them help on a regular basis or arrange for them to come occasionally.

If you opt for home aid help, consider getting a ParkingPlus sticker. This allows the aids to park in front of your house if they've also got a sticker for their car. These ParkingPlus stickers make home visits easier for everyone involved.

If you need to adapt your house for any mobility needs, the Belgian government and/or your local commune may give you some financial help. For specifics, speak with your health insurance provider.

Types of residential long-term care

There comes a time where you or a loved one may need long-term care. While the emphasis is placed on at-home care, sometimes, stays in residential homes become necessary. In Belgium, there are two types of residential facilities: elderly homes and nursing homes. Both are funded by the federal public health insurance system.

Elderly homes

Elderly homes are also known as ROB or MRPA facilities. These homes are intended for the elderly who are still fairly independent, which means they only have minor limitations. The staff members will help them with basic nursing and hygiene tasks.

Nursing homes

Nursing homes are also known as RVT or MRS facilities. If you or a loved one have more serious limitations, but not serious enough to warrant permanent hospital care, then nursing homes are a good middle ground. What's great about nursing homes is each one is attached to a hospital, so if any medical emergencies arise, you'll get quick care.

Practicing geriatricians in Belgium

Unfortunately, there's a shortage of practicing geriatricians in the nation. In fact, when compared to other G-7 nations, Belgium has the lowest geriatrician workforce.

The good news is, steps have been taken to encourage medical students to specialize in geriatrics at the end of their education. For example, there's more financial compensation for geriatrics, which makes the field more appealing. Also, medical students can only super-specialize in a field at the end of a three-year internal medicine specialization training course.

Useful links:

Brussels Social en ligne (French/Dutch)

Kenniscentrum Welzijn Wonen Zorg (WWZ) (Dutch)

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