Audit to assess cross-border healthcare success


The auditors will examine the European Commission’s monitoring and support for putting the EU legislation on cross-border healthcare access into effect, the results achieved to date for patients, and the effectiveness of the EU funding framework and of the actions funded. The audit will also cover the eHealth sector, where information technology is used to improve healthcare delivery and the health of citizens.

The auditors have published a background paper on the EU cross-border healthcare system.

An important goal of EU health policy is to ensure patients’ rights to access safe and high-quality healthcare, including across national borders within the EU, and their right to be reimbursed for such healthcare. It is also one of the principles of the internal market. These rights are set out in the EU’s 2011 Cross-border Healthcare Directive.

Although most patients in the EU obtain their healthcare in their own country, in some situations the most accessible or appropriate care may be available in another member state. This raises complex questions for patients, health systems and health professionals.

Sometimes, the healthcare that citizens need can best be provided in another member state than their country of residence, due to proximity, the specialised nature of care, or the lack of capacity to provide that care in their own country.

Healthcare systems in Europe are under pressure from ageing population and growing budgetary constraints. In 2016, persons aged 65 or over accounted for 19.2% of the EU population, an increase of 2.4% compared with 10 years earlier. This share is projected to further increase in the years to come, possibly exacerbating health inequalities across the EU.

The audit will include visits to Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy and Lithuania. The report will be published in the first half of 2019.

View our EU Directive topic for further analysis of EU cross-border medical travel.



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