The Belgian Health Care System. General Practitioners and Medical Specialists

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 8:30 PM
Room: 414
Distributed Paper
Rita M.J. SCHEPERS , Centre of Sociological Research, KU Leuven Be, Catholic University Leuven, Leuven, Belgium


The Belgian health care state: general practitioners en medical specialists

Prof. Dr. Rita Schepers, Centre for Sociological Research (CeSo), KU Leuven, Belgium.


Klein (2000) described the health care state as different from the welfare state because among other reasons,  the medical professions are service professions with high specialized knowledge and also because of medical technology is advancing rapidly and creates demand.

In Belgium, the sickness funds play a crucial role. (In modern terminology, the purchasers of care)

The paper will briefly introduce the role of the sickness funds in Belgian health care. Then, the attention will be focused on the professionalization processes of doctors in medicine, surgery and gynecology. (Original titel in 1849.) Specialization processes started already in the 19th century but the coming into prominence of medical specialists started after the second World War, together with the introduction of obligatory health insurance (1944). The already existing rivalry between ‘general practitioners’ and medical specialists became very prominent. A sort of solution was reached at the end of the 20th century. In the meantime the position of general practitioners has improved.