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The provision of cross-border health services and their coverage by national healthcare systems is a highly complex process, still surrounded by legal uncertainties. In 2011, a Directive proposed by the European Commission on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare was adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council, and entered into force in  October 2013. The objectives of this directive were to provide clear rules and reliable information to patients regarding access and reimbursement for healthcare received in another EU country, to meet patients' expectations of the highest quality healthcare when travelling abroad and to ensure EU countries work closer together in the interest of patients..

To follow up on how situation of cross-border healthcare changed after the enforcement of the directive, the European Commission has conducted a pan-EU survey that counted on almost 30,000 respondents.

The results of the survey are the following:

  • Only 5% of Europeans have experienced medical treatment abroad in the last and of these, only a minority had actually planned to do so. The large majority confirmed they had had no problems getting reimbursed.
  • Half of respondents showed willingness to get medical treatment in another EU country (49%). Smaller countries like Malta, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Denmark and Luxembourg are more open to get treatment abroad, mainly to receive treatment that was not available at home, and to receive better quality treatment for major pathologies, such as cancer treatment or heart surgery.
  • Most respondents who were not willing to get medical treatment in another EU country said that because they were happy with the healthcare they received at home (55%), or found it more convenient to be treated in their own country (49%).

To get all the findings, please visit the full Eurobarometer report.