Cross-Border Healthcare Directive nowhere near reaching its potential

 

In the article, Mr Horgan says that EAPM would like to see ‘new year’s resolutions’ from all stakeholders to improve the situation to aid better health care for EU citizens, when it is needed, and wherever in the Union they may be.

Highlighting the 2018 review of the Directive by the European Commission, he says the legislation should have enabled a shift away from national isolationism in health. The rules were partially intended to make the EU’s internal market work for health for the first time, by strengthening the freedoms relating to movement of goods, people, and services.

He argues proper implementation of the Directive’s measures could be crucial to progress in personalised medicine. Freer movement of patients and data around Europe, closer collaboration on reference networks and data banks, wider access to information, institutionalised cross fertilisation between providers, payers, and regulators, and enhanced common understanding on health technology assessment are all preconditions for the successful evolution of personalised medicine.

To realise its full potential, he suggests a new level of coherence on EU policy is necessary. The Directive was held up as a test case for Europe’s ability to seize opportunity, as well as a crucial determinant of how far and how fast Europe can develop valuable new therapeutic approaches.  It hasn’t really happened as it should have done. As for the UK, post-Brexit cooperation in this field remains to be seen but it’s hard to see an improvement. As it stands, a yearly 1,000 (estimated) UK citizens are reimbursed for treatment in accordance with the Directive.

He concludes that France, Poland and Latvia are the most popular destinations chosen by British medical travellers for treatment. In reverse, the UK treats around 1,500 EU patients with some 40 NHS Hospitals involved.  Brexit, he says, could very well deliver a major blow to long-term implementation of a Directive that is already a long-way-away from where it should be. But the onus remains with the 27 other Member States, and the Commission, to get implementation of the Directive right.

For a further analysis of the European Cross-Border Healthcare Directive, visit the IMTJ EU Directive Topic section.

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