Belgium is among the top ten best performing healthcare systems in Europe. Approximately one-tenth of its gross domestic product (GDP) is spent on health. In 2021, the total expenditure on health as a share of GDP amounted to 11.2 percent, while in terms of per capita the health expenditure amounted to around 4,789 euros. Over three-quarters is financed by the public sector, followed by out-of-pocket payments. Like most Western European countries, due to changing demographics demand for long-term care will grow, resulting in higher annual healthcare expenditure in the coming decades.
The Belgian healthcare system is a Bismarckian-type model based on mandatory health insurance. Public health expenditure in Belgium is mainly financed through social contribution, while other financing sources include government subsidies and alternative financing. The National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (NIHDI) governs the sickness funds which are responsible for medical claim reimbursements, people eligible for health insurance must register with a sickness fund in Belgium. Many people also have private health insurance since sickness funds only reimburse up to 75 percent of healthcare costs. In 2022, approximately 98.6 percent of Belgian population was covered by public or private health insurance.
Healthcare delivery in Belgium is principally founded on freedom of choice, equal access, and fee-for-service model. In 2022, Belgium invested over 60 billion euros in healthcare provider facilities and services. The healthcare system provides access to a range of services such as doctors, hospital care, dental care, maternity care, and prescriptions. The regional distribution of healthcare service providers, hospitals, and hospital beds are in line with the needs of the Belgian population. The majority of healthcare providers are employed by the state, while some are self-employed. Even though the overall healthcare system in Belgium is performing well, in future it will have to tackle challenges related to healthcare staff shortage, access to high-quality care while making the system more efficient and sustainable.
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