Return of the medical index
Since 1 July 2016, hospitalisation and health insurance providers have once again been able to adjust premiums, excess payments, and insured benefits to the medical index. The aim is to have insurance premiums increase more gradually instead of the current, often unexpected high premium increases.
An attempt was made to introduce this index by means of a Royal Decree in 2010, but its calculation met with resistance as it did not take ‘ageing population provisions’ into consideration. The Council of State scrapped the index at the end of 2012, meaning that companies could adjust premiums only to the consumer price index or through the stricter procedure of approval via the National Bank of Belgium. Due to the continuous increase in healthcare costs, the index came up again for discussion and the calculation was adjusted using the ageing factor. This means that the evolution of this index will take precedence over that of the consumer price index.
Specifically, the health insurer will be able to adjust their policies for health insurance contracts that are not linked to a certain profession on the next renewal date if these contracts contain an indexation clause. This will be set out in the renewal date notice.
There is no automatic adjustment to the medical index for other contracts that are linked to a professional activity, in other words group contracts taken out via the employer. Insurers are obviously making use of this new medical index and we are seeing in practice that they are including this mechanism via an indexation clause in group policies in order to avoid sudden premium increases in those too. Notice must be given at least three months before the annual renewal date. If the employer-policyholder does not agree, it may terminate the contract.
The medical index will be published on the first business day of July each year.