The EU Directive on Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare (Directive 2011/24) 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 and supplements the rights that patients already have under EU Regulation 883/04 on the co-ordination of social security schemes. 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 healthcare patients seek is provided in a Member State other than their home Member State.
The European Union (Application of Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare) Regulations 2014 were signed on 14 May, 2014 and came into operation on 1 June 2014. This Statutory Instrument implements key provisions of the Directive, namely, providing for reimbursement by the HSE of qualifying cross-border healthcare, a system of prior authorisation, and the placing of the National Contact Point (NCP) on a Statutory basis.
The Cross-Border Healthcare Directive permits patients to choose their healthcare provider in the EU but does not require a Member State to pay for that care directly. The avenue that is available to patients seeking to have their treatment abroad authorised and paid for directly by the HSE is under the HSE's Treatment Abroad Scheme which operates under the rules set by Regulation 883/04.