October 25th 2013 marks the start of a new approach to both public and private healthcare throughout the European Economic Area (EEA). Member states such as the UK must now meet the demands laid out in the EU Directive on Cross Border Healthcare.
What this means for any Brit living beyond UK borders is that they need to have any proposed treatments authorised, as well as the ability to pay for healthcare whilst overseas. Any country refusing to treat a patient will also have to explain their refusal.
The NHS will liaise with the relevant overseas health authority to finalise payment for treatment and two separate sources of funding will be made available to NHS patients seeking reimbursement, although any costs incurred for travel or accommodation will be excluded.
The move comes in a bid to clear up the confusion that many EU residents feel when it comes to their healthcare entitlements. In all likelihood, it will now make sense for European expats to travel back home and receive advanced healthcare in their country of origin.
A spokesperson for the European Union commented:
“The directive also clarifies who is responsible for quality and safety of care in cross border settings and it strengthens cooperation in different areas, such as networks of centres of reference for specialised care … As a general rule, patients will be allowed to receive healthcare in another member state and be reimbursed up to the level of costs that would have been assumed by the member state of affiliation, if this healthcare had been provided on its territory.”
The key advantage of this is that the prolonged waiting times of one host EU country could be reduced simply by returning to a native EU country, where the waiting time is far shorter. This legislation restructure could be the most expansive that this generation will ever see.
By Anthony Standring
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