This move came after Spain pushed for political agreement on an issue which has divided governments since it was proposed by the European Commission in July 2008.
Conditions attached to mobility
Patients will have to seek “prior authorisation” before travelling for treatment and member states will only have to reimburse costs based on the price of the operation in their own health services.
In effect, this means a Polish citizen who has a hip replacement in Germany will be able to recoup what the operation would cost in Poland. The prior authorisation clause means health authorities will have the last word when it comes to granting permission to travel – ending speculation that widespread “medical tourism” would arise from the directive.
It is also expected that general practitioners (GPs) will act as “gatekeepers” who decide whether their patients should be considered for treatment overseas.
Public and private hospitals could be covered equally by the new arrangement, provided that they meet strict quality standards, allowing patients on public waiting lists to request treatment in private hospitals outside their home member state.
It is believed by officials that compromises have been reached in key areas which will see the controversial plan passed during meet of ministers in Luxembourg.
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