Health care providers in Belgium won’t be able to pass on costs related to personal protective equipment (PPE) for coronavirus to patients, Belgian Health Minister Maggie De Block said Friday.
Instead, health operators will receive financial assistance to help them deal with extra costs.
Despite government assistance, providers have been hit by extra charges related to the increased need for equipment like gloves, face masks and gowns since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
The measure will be introduced shortly and patients who have been charged any extra fees related to PPE will be able to recover them by contacting their insurer or health care provider.
“By instituting a general ban on ‘corona surcharges,’ we are ensuring that no patient has to bear the cost of their provider’s protective gear,” De Block said.
But she added that the ministry has no intention of abandoning providers who must also be helped with this increase in costs. “This is why we are developing a system, together with our administrators, to compensate health care providers as fairly as possible for any extra expenditures incurred during the crisis,” she said.
The supply of PPE has been a recurring problem for countries throughout Europe, with a slew of states imposing bans on the export of medical equipment at the beginning of the crisis. A recent report by the Standing Committee of European Doctors shows that PPE shortages continue across the Continent.