EU citizens still lacking awareness of cross-border healthcare


According to the recent study by ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardisation, patients are not keen to seek treatment in another EU country and do not know their rights. Of the 1,656 EU citizen surveyed by ANEC, 37% had received unplanned medical treatment in another EU country, but only 4% had travelled abroad specifically to receive planned medical care.

Despite the EU Patient Directive having been in place for almost five years, the rights and opportunities related to cross-border healthcare are not clear to consumers. Less than half (47%) of all respondents to the ANEC survey knew that they could be reimbursed for certain planned treatments if they seek treatment in another country. Consequently, the majority of patients treated in another country do not apply for reimbursement from their home country.

Patients who have received medical treatment abroad are largely satisfied with the quality of their care and the medical staff. Less than three in ten of the respondents treated abroad reported problems of some kind during the treatment process. The problems reported were mostly related to the process of accessing treatment, getting reimbursement or resolving disputes.

At the general EU level, the awareness of the existence of the National Contact Points (NCPs) is still low (25%). The study highlights an urgent need to raise patient awareness at the beginning and end of the patient journey of matters such as how to choose the healthcare provider and how to make a complaint.

Read more about seeking treatment abroad.