Belgium

Organisation and finance
Belgian health insurance is organised through a number of private - but licensed - insurance companies (mutuelles). As such, there is no direct government involvement in subsidising the costs of hearing aids.

The level and type of insurance available to the individual vary, resulting in a wide range of cost reimbursement. Typically, two modern-technology hearing aids cost around 3,500 euro, of which the insurance will cover approximately 25 per cent or 875 euro.

For children - up to the age of 18 years - the allocation from insurance companies is 60 per cent.

The insurance companies allow the patients to renew their equipment every three years, under the same terms.

Testing and treatment
The initial diagnosis is made either by the patient's local family doctor, or by a hearing health care professional. Patients are then referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist who will carry out approved tests and dispense official prescriptions as appropriate.

Waiting lists
Waiting lists are unheard of in Belgium.

Types of hearing aids
Given the level of insurance coverage, the choice of hearing aid is largely a matter of personal circumstance.

Batteries and service
Hearing aid users must pay for batteries: the insurance companies do not normally cover such costs. For a typical binaural system, these costs total 7.5 euro per month.

No support is given for servicing. Once the equipment is out of warranty (normally one year), patients must cover servicing costs themselves.