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Many Belgian patients uninformed about doctor's costs

Apr 18, 2017

Too few patients in Belgium know in advance how much they will pay for a medical intervention, writes Knack, according to a survey by the Christian Mutuality (CM), Belgium's biggest health insurer.

"On this European Patients' Rights Day (18 April), we urge health care providers and patients to enter into discussion about the cost of treatment," says CM.

CM surveyed 5,500 of its members on the issue. The results revealed major differences among health care providers. About 84% of those surveyed know exactly how much they will pay for a consultation with their GP. The osteopath (87%), psychiatrist (75%), speech therapist (68%) and physiotherapist (64%) also scored well.

Other care providers need to be more transparent, the survey shows. Only 33% of patients have an idea how much a visit to their dentist will cost. The ophthalmologist (46%) and gynaecologist (52%) also have room to improve. But this is partly because patients don't bring up the cost beforehand, says CM.

"For many patients, the cost is not the first thing on their mind when they visit a health care provider," says Martine Van de Walle of CM. "They also tend to assume that their health insurance will cover it."

While many health care providers do talk to their patients about the cost of treatment, "there is clearly still a long way to go," according to Van de Walle. The CM has therefore launched a campaign on the day of patients' rights to encourage more open dialogue between patients and health care providers.

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