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EU parliament backs cross-border healthcare law

EU parliament backs cross-border healthcare law
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Fed up with waiting to get an operation in your own country, but worried about the cost of going abroad?

Well, things could soon become easier after MEPs backed rules to facilitate getting healthcare in another EU member state.

While cross-border medical treatment is nothing new the latest measures, which could be in force within two years, aim to make it simpler for patients to get reimbursed back home.

Françoise Grosse-tête from the European people’s party said: “Until now, it’s only emergency care. For example if a tourist is in a European Union member state or students move because of Erasmus can they benefit from social security rules, which allow for reimbursement in emergency cases. But this doesn’t involve other care you may need sometime in your life.’‘

Currently an annual pot of about 10 billion euros goes into cross border treatment in the EU, funding around one per cent of all medical care in the bloc.

While the latest legislation aims to clear up a notoriously grey area, the exact criteria will be left to member states. Some fear patients will still foot some of the cost.

Pascal Garel, from the European Hospital and Healthcare Federation said: ‘‘When you go abroad to get care that’s available in your country but you want x or y elsewhere, well, we will only reimburse the amount that would have been paid in your member state. Probably the patient will have to pick up the rest of the bill.’‘

There’s also another catch. The treatment has to be funded in your home country but not available in a reasonable time. Even so, it’s hoped the new rules will give patients greater access to medical services, especially for rarer conditions.

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