European Commission takes stock.

MS – 11/2018

Just on five years after Directive 2011/24 / EU on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare entered into force, the European Commission has released a report on its implementation in the European Union:

‘Now, after five years of the operation of the Directive, it can be concluded that cross-border patient flows are showing a stable pattern, mostly driven by geographical or cultural proximity. Overall, patient mobility and its financial dimension within the EU remain relatively low and the Cross-border Healthcare Directive has not resulted in a major budgetary impact on the sustainability of health systems.’

The Directive on patients’ rights was adopted in October 2011 and was due to be implemented in all Member States by 25 October 2013.

Under the Directive, every patient in the EU Member States has the right to receive outpatient or inpatient treatment outside of the country where they are insured. The home country only has to reimburse the costs of outpatient or inpatient treatment up to the amount that this treatment would have cost in the home country. Whereas outpatient treatment of the insured person generally does not require prior approval from their health insurance fund in their home country, inpatient treatment (e.g. an overnight stay or treatment by a highly specialised and expensive medical infrastructure is required), is subject to approval from the Member State in which they are insured.


Upon adoption of this Directive, the Commission was also given the legal right to submit certain legislative initiatives on the digitalisation of health care, the creation of European reference networks and Health Technology Assessment (HTA).

The Commission’s report on the operation of the Directive was published on 21 September 2018 and is available via this link.