In Belgium, unlike in Spain, you normally pay upfront when you go to the hospital. So here, you need to be registered with a Mutuality (mutuelle in French or ziekenfonds in Dutch) if you want to get reimbursed for the medical expenses. In Belgium, it is compulsory to be registered with a Mutuality but it is easy to find one: http://www.riziv.fgov.be/fr/professionnels/autres/mutualites/Pages/contactez-mutualites.aspx#.WSXFKOvyiUs. As far as I know, there are 2 ways to sign up with a Mutuality and export our social security provided by the country of the home institution:
- With the European Health Insurance Card
- With the form A1 issued by the home institution.
In my case, I selected the second option. The form A1 certificates that you are affiliated with the social security system in a European country so you are not obliged to pay again for this service when you move to a different European country due to working purposes. Afterwards, the Spanish social security, using the form A1 that ICRA gave me, issued the form E-106 (or the new S1) to certificate my right to receive social benefits in Belgium. You can find all this information through http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/work/social-security-forms/index_en.htm
Once I arrived in Belgium, I went to the nearest Mutuality and I presented the form E-106 along with my Spanish identity card. After a couple of weeks, I received a letter from the Mutuality confirming my affiliation. Now, when I go to the doctor, he/she gives me the invoice including the amount paid and then I go to my Mutuality to ask for the reimbursement. I have the money back on the same day! As a drawback, the Mutuality does not reimburse the total amount. This is why Belgians normally complements the Mutuality with a private insurance so that their medical expenses are fully covered.
In September I will move to UK to continue my research so I will have to learn how the British Social Security works. Any advice is welcome.