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    Brussels hospitals remain most expensive in Belgium

    In almost all Brussels clinics, doctors are allowed to charge up to 300% extra, on top of the original rate. Credit: City of Brussels

    The hospitals in Brussels are the most expensive ones in Belgium, according to figures from the Mutualité Chrétienne health insurance fund, which compared prices for common admissions in all Belgian hospitals.

    The Mutualité makes up an annual ‘hospital barometer’, based on their members’ invoices from the year before. The cost of natural childbirth in Brussels is up to four times higher in some hospitals than in others, while the room and care are the same.

    Hospitals in Brussels are more expensive because, on average, doctors charge higher additional fees than in the rest of Belgium. Doctors’ fees are additional costs on top of the normal fee that a doctor can charge for a certain procedure.

    In concrete numbers, delivering a child in a single room in CHIREC, the Clinics d’Europe and the university hospitals Saint-Luc costs up to €3,000. In the Erasmus Hospital, the Clinics Saint-Jan, the Brugmann Hospital and the Iris Hospitals, the cost of childbirth is around €2,000, which is about the same as in a lot of Walloon hospitals. Only Hôpital Saint-Pierre is in the cheapest price category, with the cost of childbirth being €768 in a single room, and only €142 in a double room.

    In almost all Brussels clinics, doctors are allowed to charge up to 300% extra, on top of the original rate. However, they can only do that for patients in a single room.

    “Such large price differences for the same interventions cannot be justified,” said Luc Van Gorp, the MC chairman, reports Bruzz. “We can only conclude that hospitals and doctors are looking for creative ways to generate extra income. Additional doctor’s fees, room supplements or comfort supplements for a television or refrigerator in the room, for example, continue to increase,” he added.

    He emphasises that these costs are borne by the patient as not all hospitalization insurances refund the supplements. “The quality of care may be the same, but if you want the best support, you have to pay for it,” added Van Gorp.

    “We have already put a restriction on fee supplements: we have abolished them in all rooms except the single rooms. The question now is how we can ensure that they do not continue to rise,” said Maggie De Block, Minister for Health, adding that she has been working on this problem with a group for a long time, reports VRT.

    The health insurance company does not want a one-person room to become a luxury product. “Single rooms must become the norm for admissions where the patient has to stay at least one night. But that is only possible if fee supplements are banned,” he added.

    The MC proposes to give hospitals other income via statutory health insurance. “We advocate transferring part of the premiums we currently pay for hospitalisation insurance to the statutory health insurance. This is possible because without fee supplements there is no need for hospitalisation insurance,” said Van Gorp.

    The Clinique Saint-Jean and the Clinics d’Europe decided to lower their maximum supplements last year. Doctors are now only allowed to charge 200% on top of the standard fee, instead of 300%.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times