Social Security/Health Insurance – Belgium

1. Health Insurance
2. Other Social Security Schemes
3. Abortion

1. Health Insurance

A. Health Care Schemes (State-Organised) and other Social Security Schemes

1. Migrant Sex Workers with a Residence Permit

There is no National Health Service. Health care in Belgium is provided by medical security services which are mostly politically related (e.g. socialist, liberal etc.). Each member has to pay an annual membership fee. The services are comprehensive and cover basically all medical treatments without additional charges, provided the woman holds a valid residence permit. (A declaration of arrival or a tourist visa are not sufficient.) Also, the refund is financed by a social security fund which raises its funds from everyone who is working.

Employed and self-employed Sex Workers

The medical security services are not linked to labour, meaning that anybody, notwithstanding whether she works (employed or self-employed) or does not work may benefit from medical security services, provided that she holds a valid residence permit.

Women who work part-time as employed waitresses, dancers etc. and also work as prostitutes are partly protected, because of their contract as a waitress. Thus, they can enjoy health insurance and labour law protection for employees. Those rights are only valid when she is acting as a waitress; she is not protected as a prostitute.

2. Migrants without Legal Status

Migrants without legal status are excluded from social security and health care schemes. In cases of emergency, they can receive free medical treatment.

B. Private Health Insurance

Migrants without legal status are not eligible for private health insurance.

2. Other Social Security Schemes

Other social security schemes are available for women who work legally in the country (employed or self-employed) and contribute to the social security fund (“Rijksdienst voor sociale zekerheid“).

3. Abortion

Abortion is considered legal before the end of the 12th week of pregnancy. The abortion has to be done in medically acceptable conditions by a physician who has to make sure that the woman knowledgeably refuses the completion of the pregnancy and accepts the abortion. She has to make this statement no less than six days after the initial consultation. The woman will be informed about all possible implications and options in a health-care institute. On the day of the abortion the woman has to sign an advance consent form.

After the end of the 12th week of pregnancy, obtaining an abortion is only legal if the completion of the pregnancy implies a serious risk for the health of the woman or if it is established that the unborn child will suffer from a very serious and incurable disease. A second and written opinion of another physician has to be provided. There are special recognised institutes which provide an abortion.

For help, get in touch with one of the relevant NGOs.

4. HIV positive persons and AIDS patients

Health services provide support for HIV positive persons and AIDS patients and generally refer them to special institutes or hospitals. Counselling, specific medication and hospitalisation is provided.
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