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Health Policy. 2008 May;86(2-3):195-203. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2007.11.012. Epub 2008 Jan 11.

Reforming the Belgian market for orthotic braces: what can we learn from the international experience?

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Research Centre for Pharmaceutical Care and Pharmaco-economics, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Onderwijs en Navorsing 2, P.O. Box 521, Herestraat 49, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.



This article aims to review regulation governing outpatient orthotic braces (neck, wrist and knee braces) in France, the Netherlands and Sweden with a view to reforming the Belgian market.


Information about the regulatory framework was derived from an analysis of legal texts and a survey completed by national experts.


Strategies to keep down prices include public procurement in Sweden, maximum prices in France, and exclusion of expensive braces from reimbursement in the Netherlands. Reimbursement is linked to a medical indication or a chronic condition in France, the Netherlands and Sweden. To gain reimbursement, the cost-effectiveness of orthotic braces needs to be demonstrated in France and the Netherlands. Orthotic braces tend to be initially prescribed by a specialist physician and distributed by orthotists, medical equipment shops and/or community pharmacies.


Extensive government intervention exists in the outpatient orthotic brace market in the countries studied. Our recommendations to reform the Belgian market for prefabricated orthotic braces are to separate reimbursement for service provision from reimbursement for braces; to set prices by means of a tendering process or an international price comparison; and to make reimbursement conditional on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of braces.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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