Unpaid hospital bills in Brussels and Wallonia many times higher than in Flanders

5 November 2019

The amount of unpaid hospital bills is increasing in Wallonia and Brussels and has now reached more than twice the amount of unpaid hospital bills in Flanders. The N-VA sees this as yet more proof of the difference in approach and mentality among the regions. “Once again, the Language border The language border between a Flemish and a French-speaking area was permanently established in the period from 1962 to 1963. The Brussels-Capital district, with 19 municipalities, became officially bilingual. The language border was not a Flemish invention. Since the beginning of the 20th century, French-speakers, and certainly the socialists, have strongly advocated for monolingual areas in Belgium. Today, Flemings want respect for the language border and the bilingual nature of Brussels. language border appears to be a healthcare border,” the N-VA says.

Increasing costs

MP Frieda Gijbels asked minister Maggie De Block for the figures regarding the amount of unpaid hospital bills. In absolute terms, the costs are increasing. In 2010, unpaid hospital bills had reached the amount of 447.3 million euros. Now, for the most recent year for which we have complete figures, 2017, we see that the amount is touching 486.2 million euros. For 2018 we only have provisional figures, and they show that unpaid bills have already mounted up to 356.7 million euros. Regarding the figures, the N-VA comments: “Relatively speaking, unpaid bills are decreasing from 2.77% to 2.43%. Hospitals are realising the severity of the problem and following payments up more effectively. But there’s always room for improvement.”

Language border = healthcare border

The distribution among the regions shows that Flanders is a class leader in the approach to payment defaulters. “Here, we see once again that the language border is a healthcare border, and a mentality border,” the N-VA says. For 2017, the amount of unpaid bills in Flemish hospitals was 148.5 million euros. The picture in Wallonia and Brussels is very different: more than twice the amount in Flanders. For Wallonia, the amount of unpaid bills was 208.4 million euros, while for Brussels it was 129.3 million euros. In other words, 337.7 million euros in total.

Brussels numbers beggar belief

Brussels is heading for an increase in 2018, which, calculated on the basis of the turnover in 2017 and an unchanged policy, would result in an amount of 142.3 million euros. The N-VA says that the Brussels numbers beggar belief. “The population is six times smaller than that of Flanders, while the difference in unpaid bills is only 6 million euros. To put it another way: per resident of Flanders the amount of unpaid bills is 23.60 euros, per resident of Wallonia it is 58.20 euros, and per resident of Brussels the amount of unpaid bills is no less than 118.60 euros.”

Patient pays twice

“For Flanders we see that making adjustments works,” the N-VA continues, “the other regions must also urgently make extra efforts. After all, the danger is that the bill is passed on to Social security Social security is currently managed at the Federal level in Belgium. The most important pillars of Belgian social security are: sickness and invalidity insurance (NIDHI), pensions, unemployment insurance and child allowances. In addition, occupational illness, occupational accidents and annual holidays are dealt with at this level. Some Flemish parties have been campaigning for years for (large parts of) social security to be transferred to the Regions and Communities. social security , or even worse, the honest payer. In Brussels, we are already seeing a gigantic increase in the Fee A fee is remuneration requested by the government for a specific service that it provides. The difference between a fee and taxes is that there is an immediate service provided in return for a fee. An example is the parking charges that the municipalities can enforce. They can carry out the collection thereof themselves, or contract this out. fee supplements that are being charged, sometimes up to 300%. Hospitals use those supplements in part to increase their revenues. As a result, the honest patient pays twice: once with the bill and once with the higher fees. But hospitals must also play their part: clear communication and good follow-up are important in this regard.”

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