More countries adopt EU Directive rules on cross-border healthcare


January has seen more EU countries pass laws and set up national contact points, in line with European Directive 2011/24 on EU cross-border healthcare.

Italy has approved the Legislative Decree, implementing the directive and setting up contacts point for Italian patients considering going to another country and Europeans considering going to Italy .The new law is effective from March 2014 and by then there will be a national contact point and regional contact points in Veneto, Liguria, Trento and Valle d’Aosta.

Spain has passed all the laws needed by Royal Decree and set up a national contact point within the Ministry of Health.

Poland has passed a law and set up a national contact point within the National Health Fund. Polish patients will be able to travel to other EU countries to receive planned medical treatment .The treatment will be refunded by the National Health Fund (NFZ). The government is worried that if thousands of patients who currently have to wait for months to see a specialist head abroad for care, the NFZ budget will be quickly spent .So the Ministry of Health has restrictions to discourage Poles from seeking healthcare abroad including a compulsory foreign treatment referral from a Polish doctor and restricting refunds to only treatments and drugs reimbursed by the NFZ.

Romania has transposed into national law the Directive on cross-border patients' rights but has not yet set up a national contact point.

Cyprus has passed a law implementing the directive and a national contact point is being set up soon with a new website.

Speaking at a recent seminar, health minister Petros Petrides praised the benefits of implementing the EU directive on cross-border health care, hailing it as truly reformist, “The adoption of the directive will contribute to improving the quality and safety of health care across Europe and ultimately benefit health care systems in EU countries. As a country aspiring to develop a high-quality medical tourism industry, we satisfy all the required criteria, combining a beautiful Mediterranean environment with natural wealth, climate that is ideal for patient treatment and rehabilitation, tradition in healthy nutrition, historical and cultural heritage and internationally renowned medical professionals. Implementing the directive poses a unique opportunity to modernise our healthcare systems.”

At a recent European Patients Federation cross-border healthcare conference Nathalie Chaze from DG SANCO, an organization for patients showed concern that national contact points may not give the right help: “The Directive covers all providers and gives patients the reimbursement as if they were in their own member state. The ideal national contact points should be accessible, accurate, available and customer-friendly. There should be an emergency hotline available to allow for a rapid response as well as information campaigns organised raising awareness about this legislation.”



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