Belgium is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy. There are 3 official languages: Dutch, French and German.
Belgian health care is generally accessible and affordable and is among the highest quality in Europe and in the world. The basis for good accessibility and affordability is a system of compulsory health insurance through health insurance funds, mainly financed by compulsory social contributions from employees and employers.
GDP per capita
According to a report by Health Consumer Powerhouse, a think tank that has been comparing all European healthcare systems since 2005, Belgium’s health care is the fifth best in Europe. The latest report showed improvement in the Belgian healthcare system, as the country rose in rank from 8th to 5th place this year.
One of Belgium’s strongest points is its accessible health care and the fact that patients are taken care of quickly.
Spending on health care in Belgium amounted to 41,7 billion dollars in 2014, or 10,4% of GDP. This is 1,4% higher than the OECD average and 1,1% higher than the European average. This puts Belgium in 7th place in Europe. With regard to spending per capita, Belgium scores 4522 dollars higher than the OESE average of 3.683 dollars, but it does not reach the European top 10. Since 2009, the trend is stabilized around 10% of GDP
Pharmaceuticals represent approximately 10% of the total healthcare budget. The prices of cancer drugs in particular cause an increase in pharmaceutical costs.
Between 2005 and 2015, the market share of generic drugs doubled in size from 17% to 35%. Nevertheless the use of generic medicines in Belgium is still low compared to many other EU countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands.
In Belgium there is a 2-step approach in getting your pharmaceutical reimbursed. First of all a price has to be agreed, after that the reimbursement process starts. This will take at least 190 days, and can be a complicated procedure without the right expertise.
Like in most western European countries, the government wants to reduce healthcare costs in general. Reducing costs for pharmaceuticals are often seen as an “easy” way to success. So the pressure on prices is high.
Gert van Alewijk and Bauke Buwalda
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