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Out-of-pocket hospital costs on the rise in Belgium
Patients in Belgian hospitals face increasing out-of-pocket healthcare costs, including fees for the work of physicians or technicians with whom they have little or even no contact, reports Het Nieuwsblad. The 'hidden' charges result in patients paying more and more out of pocket, as most basic health insurance funds cover only the official rates for basic fees.
The additional charges involve, for example, fees for radiologists who perform scans or doctors who work in the lab. The Christian health insurance fund (CM/MC) wants to abandon the practice and calls for a ban on supplemental hospital charges.
Hospital patients in Belgium pay a total of €1,460 on average for inpatient care in a private room, according to the new hospital barometer released by CM/MC. The report is based on an analysis of 1.4 million hospital bills.
The report reveals that more than 60% of the bill (or €900) consists of fee supplements, additional amounts above the fixed rate that are tacked on to the total amount charged to patients who opt for a single room. These patients altogether last year paid a total of €643 million above the standard price for their care, five percent more than the year before.
Those covered by an extra hospital insurance are reimbursed for at least part of the extra costs. "But 2 million Belgians have no hospital insurance," CM/MC points out.
The Christian health insurance fund is therefore urging a restriction on extra hospital charges, especially for services such as as lab work, scans and resuscitation.