What does this proposal mean for citizens and patients?

This draft Directive clarifies the rights of patients to seek healthcare in another Member State as recognised by the European Court of Justice and simplifies their application in practice. Once the proposed Directive is implemented by the Member States, it will have the following practical benefits for citizens:

  • As long as a treatment is covered under their national healthcare system, patients will be allowed to receive that treatment in another EU country and be reimbursed without prior authorisation. For hospital care however, under certain circumstances, a Member State may decide to introduce a system in which patients require an administrative prior authorisation before seeking care abroad.
  • The patient will have to pay the costs to the healthcare provider abroad up front, but will have those costs afterwards reimbursed up to the level of reimbursement for the same or similar treatment in their national health system.
  • Patients will be guaranteed fair and quick procedures, including for the actual reimbursement of costs, and will have the right to ask for a review of any administrative decision regarding cross-border healthcare.
  • Patients will have easier access to all relevant information about cross-border healthcare, in particular through national contact points, so that they can make informed decisions about using cross-border healthcare.
  • Patients will be guaranteed access to their medical records and the protection of their personal data will also be guaranteed in the cross-border healthcare setting.
  • It will be easier for patients to have a prescription they received abroad obtained after their return to their home Member State. This will to ensure appropriate follow-up to the healthcare provided in another Member State.
  • As a result of European cooperation in fields such as the European reference networks, patients will have access to highly specialised healthcare that they otherwise may not have.
  • Patients can be confident about the quality and safety standards of healthcare abroad, which are guaranteed in the same way as they are for domestic patients. The country where treatment is provided is responsible for clinical oversight. This is the case regardless of how this treatment is paid for.
  • If something goes wrong, patients will be guaranteed redress and compensation and will be provided with assistance by national contact points for cross-border healthcare.
  • Patients coming from another EU country to benefit from cross-border healthcare will be treated in a non discriminatory way and enjoy equal treatment with the nationals of the country in which they are treated. (…)