Overcoming obstacles in border regions - When the nearest hospital happens to be abroad
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What would you do if you broke your arm and the closest hospital was across the border?
A woman in the Latvian town of Valka didn’t think twice. In much pain, she rushed to a hospital three kilometres away in Valga, Estonia.
The decision saved her from a 55 kilometre journey to the nearest hospital in Latvia. But it came at a cost – she ended up paying out of pocket for her treatment due to hurdles hampering EU cross-border healthcare cooperation.
The twin towns of Valka and Valga share a long history and were previously one municipality. When Latvia and Estonia joined the Schengen area in 2007, they essentially became a single urban region again.
But despite their proximity and EU regulations guaranteeing the right of citizens access to cross-border medical care, Latvians face a number of obstacles or difficulties linked to a lack of information, language barriers, complex payment and reimbursement procedures and onerous administrative requirements.
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