An asylum seeker is entitled to include the right to medical care necessary to live a life in human dignity. Asylum seekers are not required to pay a so-called “franchise patient fee” (“Remgeld / ticket moderateur”), the amount of medical costs a patient needs to pay without being reimbursed by health insurance, unless they have a professional income or receive a financial allowance.
There is medical and psychological service in Fedasil arrival centre offering free health care services during the week at working hours. If anyone needs emergency care out of the working hours of medical service, staff working there will help him/her to access emergency aid.
Collective centres and individual shelters often work together with specific doctors or medical centres in the area of the centre or reception place. The reception centres mostly rely on the system of working with external doctors but not only in 10 centres of Fedasil. There will be visiting doctors of the centre on certain dates and times. Asylum seekers are allowed to visit a doctor in the centre normally being referred by the social/medical assistant.
Also, most of them have agreements with local doctors and medical centres. This doctor may refer asylum seekers to a specialist where necessary.
When the asylum seeker is not staying in the reception place given to him or her, the right to medical aid will not be affected, although accessing medical care can be difficult in practice. Asylum seekers who are not staying in a reception structure (by choice or following a sanction) have to ask for a promise of repayment (requisitorium) before going to a doctor. This can be a very time-consuming process. When the workload is high, it can take up to a few weeks before the medical service of Fedasil answers.
Once the asylum application has been refused and the reception rights have come to an end, the person concerned will only be entitled to emergency medical assistance.
Fedasil refunds the costs of all necessary psychological assistance for asylum seekers who fall under their responsibility. There are services specialised in the mental health of migrants but they are not able to cope with the demand. Public centres for mental health care are open to asylum seekers and have adapted rates but mostly lack specific expertise. Additionally, there is a lack of qualified interpreters. The Reception Act allows Fedasil or reception partners to make agreements with specialised services. The Secretary of State accords funding for certain projects or activities by royal decree, but these are always short-term projects or activities so the sector mainly lacks long-term solutions.
In Wallonia, there is a specialised Red Cross reception centre (Centre d’accueil rapproché pour demandeurs d’asile en souffrance mentale, Carda) for traumatised asylum seekers. In Flanders, there is a centre for the intensive assistance of asylum seekers with psychological and/or mild psychiatric problems (Centrum voor Intensieve Begeleiding van Asielzoekers – CIBA) in Sint-Niklaas. The centre provides for an intensive trajectory of maximum 3 months and has 40 places, 5 of which are reserved for unaccompanied minors of 16 years old or over.
Note: You may also refer to medical aid resources offered for all migrants and homeless people in this website.