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Tuesday 25th October 2016

EU debate on health choices

12th September 2006

08072006_european_union1.jpgEuropean health commissioner Markos Kyprianou announced proposals for patients to be able to 'shop around' for medical provision from across the EU.

He said that the healthcare that patients need is sometimes best provided in another EU country.  The proposal will launch a fresh debate after healthcare was inititially dropped from the controversial EU services directive in February.

Many argue that medical services should fall outside the scope of Europe’s single market in the public interest. EU judges have however decided that all health provision should be judged under internal market rules, with a series of rulings allowing “patient mobility? since 1998.
Mr Kyprianou said that “A clear, practical framework is needed to enable patients to and those who pay for, provide and regulate health services to take advantage of cross-border healthcare where that is the best solution.?

The conditions under which an EU citizen can seek medical care abroad with the bill picked up by national health services or insurance schemes need to be resolved. Kyprianou is suggesting that patients will only be able to travel for treatment at the same price as the same procedure carried out in their home country.

Countries with the longest waiting lists may find themselves facing substantial reimbursement costs for patients to travel abroad for quicker treatment. There are concerns over 'health tourists', with standards of care differing widely in EU countries.

Internet “e-health? consultations with doctors, without the patient or provider leaving their home territory, has also suggested by the commissioner.

The commission will consult throughout September, with Europe's health ministers expected to discuss the issue before the end of the year.

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