Elderly Belgians will not be reimbursed the cost of seeing a therapist due to budget constraints. Starting at the end of the year, Belgian health insurance providers will be required to partly reimburse the cost of psychological counselling.
A one-hour therapy session with a local psychologist typically costs €50 or more. Under the federal government’s new plan, this out-of-pocket cost would be brought down to €11 per visit, provided patients are referred to a psychologist by their GP or a psychiatrist.
But according to Nils Vandenweghe, president of the Vlaamse Ouderenraad (Flemish Seniors’ Council), only under-65s will be eligible for the reimbursements. “Anyone who is older will be left out in the cold. And this when the need is really high precisely among the elderly,” he told De Standaard newspaper.
A spokesperson for federal health minister Maggie De Block told the newspaper that the reimbursement would indeed only apply to Belgians aged 64 or under. “The minister examined how she could best use the limited budget,” spokesperson Tijs Ruysschaert said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to secure additional funds for the elderly in the future.”
According to figures from the federal health ministry, approximately 120,000 patients will be eligible for the reimbursements. The cost of the measure has been estimated at €22.5. million per year.