On 25th October 2013 a new EU law was introduced regarding Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare. Currently, the majority of EU citizens are unaware of their rights to healthcare within the European Union.
Up until now EU citizens who were temporarily outside their home country and in need of healthcare or emergency treatment were treated via their European Health Insurance Card, receiving the treatment they needed in any EU country. EU citizens will continue to benefit from these existing Regulations and be provided with the care they require.
What the new Cross-border Healthcare Directive clarifies are the rights of patients to safe, quality treatment in the whole of the European Union, with costs being reimbursed in accepted cases by the patients’ home country afterwards. EU patients will have easy access to information regarding the healthcare available in other EU countries which will give them more options for treatment.
In order to plan such treatment, under this regulation the patient will have requested prior authorisation which cannot be denied if the patient is unable to receive treatment in question in their home country within a stipulated medical period.
In general, patients normally prefer to be treated in their home country, consequently, the amount of patients expected to take advantage of this new Directive will represent just 1% of public health expenditure and the procedures involved will be mainly hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery.
Patients will receive all the necessary information in order to make their decision via the National Contact Points which will be established in all member states.
After having made the decision, the patient is required to request prior authorisation which will also guarantee the reimbursement of their treatment. The patient will be responsible for their transport and accommodation costs and only have the right to be reimbursed for the medical costs, the medical costs always being either equal to or less than what the same treatment would cost in the patient’s home country. Treatment which is not covered in the patient’s home country will not be authorised nor consequently reimbursed.
The patient has the right to receive a copy of their medical records in their home country previous to travelling and a copy of their medical records after treatment in the EU country of their choice. At the same, any medicine prescribed in the other member state must be recognised in the home country and vice versa.
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