Cross-border healthcare – Report on the operation of Directive 2011/24/EU

On 4 September 2015, the European Commission published a report on the state of play of the Directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare (Directive 2011/24/EU).

The Directive came into force on 24 April 2011. It was due to be transposed by Member States by 25 October 2013. It clarifies the rights of patients to seek reimbursement for healthcare received in another Member State. The article 20 of the Directive said that “the Commission shall by 25 October 2015 and subsequently every three years thereafter, drawn up a report on the operation of this Directive and submit it to the European Parliament and the Council”.

The report shows significant legislative advances at EU-level in the past two years coupled with genuine efforts at national level. The Directive also improved transparency and patient mobility throughout the EU and enabled progress on Health Technology Assessment, eHealth cooperation and European Reference Networks.

However, the report shows that European citizens’ awareness about their right to be treated in another EU country remains low. In fact, less than two in ten citizens feel they are informed about their rights in this area and only one in ten are aware of the National contact Points (NCPs). Awareness of NCPs and their activities varies widely between EU countries.

As a conclusion, the report underlines that the level of use of planned healthcare is far below the potential levels suggested by the number of people indicating in the Eurobarometer survey that they would consider using cross-border healthcare.  It also highlights that information to patients about their general rights to reimbursement should be improved as well as information on how to use these rights in practice.

Finally, in some Member States barriers to patient mobility are significant and sometime the result of intentional political choices. For example, lack of clarity about treatments subject to prior authorisation, the request for prior authorisation when it does not appear to be justified and burdensome administrative requirements  contribute to deter patients’ from going abroad to seek treatment.

The report is available at: 

http://ec.europa.eu/health/cross_border_care/docs/2015_operation_report_dir201124eu_en.pdf