The Directive on Patients' Rights in Cross Border Healthcare provides rules for the reimbursement to patients' of the cost of receiving treatment abroad, where the patient would be entitled to such treatment in their home Member State (Member State of Affiliation) and supplements the rights that patients already have at EU level through the legislation on the coordination of social security schemes (regulation 883/04).
The Directive seeks to ensure a clear and transparent framework for the provision of cross-border healthcare within the EU, for those occasions where the care patients seek is provided in another Member State rather than in their home country. However, it should be emphasised that the vast majority of EU patients receive healthcare in their own country and prefer to do so.
The Department of Health is continuing to work on the necessary statutory provisions to fully implement the Directive. Nevertheless, there are arrangements in place in respect of the key provision of the Directive in relation to a national contact point (NCP), which has been set up within the HSE – the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The principle function of the NCP is to facilitate exchange of information for patients concerning their rights and entitlements relating to receiving healthcare in another Member State, in particular the terms and conditions for reimbursement of cost, the procedures for accessing and determining those entitlements. The NCP also has a responsibility to ensure that all enquirers are informed of the rights, if any, that they may have through the legislation on the coordination of social security schemes (regulation 883/04) and which may be more beneficial to them. The NCP will be able to inform patients what the cost of their treatments would be in Ireland to allow them make a comparison with the costs they are being quoted for comparable treatment in another Member State.
While it has been possible to have these aspects of the NCP up and running by the 25th October on an administrative basis, it has not been possible to have prior authorisation or reimbursement operating on a statutory basis. The Department is working on the legal arrangements to put in place the statutory provisions for these systems and will be implementing them as soon as possible.
Further information on the Ireland's implementation of the Directive is available on the NCP's webpage: http://hse.ie/eng/services/list/1/schemes/cbd/CBD.html.