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Easier medical treatment EU wide - 04/01/2008

Patient's bandaged foot

Clearer rules proposed to make travelling abroad for treatment simpler and safer for Europeans.

Most Europeans want to receive the best possible health care close to home. But if better, faster or cheaper services are on offer elsewhere in the EU, it seems only right that Europeans needing treatment should have access to them.

It has not always been clear how Europeans can take advantage of medical services abroad. The new proposal aims to turn this around by focusing on:

  • patients' right to seek treatment in another EU country and be reimbursed as you would be at home
  • high standards in the healthcare provided throughout the EU
  • European cooperation on cross-border healthcare

The need for such a proposal was highlighted after a number of cases involving cross-border treatment were brought to the European court of justice. The court consistently ruled that patients’ medical costs be reimbursed. The latest development would bring legal certainty and transparency to patients' rights.

Having access to high-quality healthcare when and where it is needed is a priority issue for European citizens, and is recognised in the recently adopted charter of fundamental rights.

For short stays in another EU member country, you should be in possession of a European health insurance card. This makes it easier for you to be treated in the host country, while your costs are reimbursed according to the system in that country. It can be ordered free of charge from your country’s health service.

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