Patients‘ rights in cross-border healthcare in the EU: Eurobarometer report

In May 2015, the Commission published a special Eurobarometer report concerning “Patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare in the EU”. The Eurobarometer survey was realised in October 2014 and covered 28 Member States, receiving 27.868 responses.

In 2007, a Eurobarometer on “Cross-border Health Services in the EU” was conducted in order to evaluate the number of EU citizens who had received healthcare in another Member State, and to understand their willingness to receive healthcare abroad.

Then, in 2011, the Directive on the application of patients’rights in cross-border healthcare (Directive 2011/24/UE) was adopted. The major aim of this new legislation was to clarify the existing rules on access and reimbursement of cross-border healthcare, as well as to promote high quality care in the EU.

In this context, the present survey is a follow up of the 2007 Eurobarometer aiming at assessing the situation after the entry into force of the above mentioned Directive.

The 2014 Eurobarometer addresses five major topics:

  • Patients‘’experience of cross-border healthcare in the EU
  • Citizens’willingness to travel to another Member State to receive healthcare
  • Citizens’knowledge about their rights to cross-border healthcare
  • Citizens’needs for information in relation to such rights
  • Role of National Contact Points

Among the main outcomes of the survey, the report first points out that patient mobility in the EU remains a marginal phenomenon. Indeed, last year cross-border healthcare concerned only 5% of EU citizens. However, half of the respondents declared that they would be willing to receive healthcare abroad, either for receiving treatment that is not available at home or for better quality treatments.

When it comes to the main barriers to cross-border healthcare, respondents mentioned language barriers, the fear of not being reimbursed and the lack of information on patient safety.

Finally, the study revealed a partial knowledge of patients about their entitlement to be reimbursed for cross-border healthcare.

The Eurobarometer report on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare in the EU is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_425_sum_en.pdf