EU Policies & Directives

Cross-Border Healthcare

On 19 January 2011, the European Parliament voted in favour of the EU Directive on cross-border healthcare, a move hailed on that same day by European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, as an important step forward for all patients in European countries.

The Directive 2011/24/EU, clarifies that EU patients seeking healthcare outside their country may do so as long as the type of treatment would have been normally provided at home. Payment must occur upfront in accordance to home country costs and the amount reimbursed from national authorities to the patient at a later date. Prior authorization for treatments that require overnight hospital stays, specialized healthcare, or treatment of a questionable quality and/or safety may be necessary in certain cases. Furthermore, each country is expected to establish a contact point for providing information to patients who come from abroad seeking treatment. However, national authorities may refuse authorization for treatment to non-domestic patients, if the treatment in question may pose a risk to the patient or if appropriate care can be provided in the patient’s home country in good time.

The Commission’s 2015 evaluation of patients’ use of the Directive’s provision for cross-border healthcare highlighted areas for improvement, particularly in the information provided to EU citizens on their rights to cross-border healthcare and on the treatment and reimbursement procedures involved. Furthermore, a May 2015 Eurobarometer survey indicates that fewer than 20 % of citizens feel well informed about their cross-border
healthcare rights.

The mid-term evaluation for the 2012-2020 eHealth action plan identified several barriers that need addressing. eHealth is facing both general challenges related to the adoption of ICT and challenges specific to eHealth, namely:

− complexity, e.g. managing dependencies between infrastructure, applications, information and integration
− governance, e.g. ensuring alignment between initiatives and overall organisation
− local conditions, e.g. balancing central and local motivation, priorities and funding
− stakeholder engagement, e.g. ensuring involvement and acceptance from managers, clinicians and IT staff

A report on eHealth prepared for the Commission in 2014 noted that many eHealth projects had been delayed or failed, either because of lack of long-term vision, lack of skills, unrealistic expectations or a lack of interoperability of systems and standards.

Information and Links on Cross-border Healthcare

All citizens of the European Union have the right to cross-border healthcare. Rules are provided for facilitating the access to safe and high-quality healthcare in not only ones own country, but within another EU member state as well. The EU promotes cooperation on healthcare between Member States, in full respect of national competencies in organising and delivering healthcare.

Below several links can be found that contain information on patients’ exact rights, as well as the full list of National Contact Points (NCP) who can be contacted if you are looking for healthcare in a different EU Member State:


Information on planned medical treatment abroad

The Leaflet on Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare (pdf)

Video on Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare

Q&A on Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare

The List of National Contact Points in Cross-border Healthcare (pdf)

ERN webpage in DG SANTE on the Cross-border Healthcare Directive

The conferences organised by DG SANTE on the Cross-border Healthcare Directive with its website and corresponding report:


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