By Angelos Anastasiou
ACCESS TO cross-border health care and reimbursement rights within the European Union (EU) were discussed on Monday in a seminar organised by the health ministry and the Office of the European Parliament in Cyprus.
Speaking at the seminar, Health Minister Petros Petrides praised the benefits of implementing the 2011 EU directive on cross-border health care, hailing the practice as “truly reformist”.
“The adoption of the directive will contribute to improving the quality and safety of health care across Europe and ultimately benefit health care systems in EU countries”, Petrides said.
The directive, recently incorporated into Cyprus law, allows EU citizens the choice of country, as well as healthcare provider, in receiving health care within the EU. This allows them to choose medical procedures based on cost and quality.
In addition to being informed of the cost burden and any applicable reimbursement in advance, citizens can be fully updated on procedures and protocols followed by any health care provider they wish to visit.
The EU directive was issued as a result of a court case brought before the European Court of Justice by citizens claiming reimbursement for health care costs incurred from a member state other than the one they had been insured in.
Implementing the directive fosters the establishment of a national contact point in each member state to ensure EU citizens’ access to healthcare and the reimbursement of medical expenses.
“Cyprus is among the member states that have enacted the directive’s provisions into national law and completed all the necessary steps for implementation. We will soon announce the launch of the national contact point’s website,” Petrides said.
The Health minister affirmed his confidence that Cyprus can reap substantial benefits from harmonising with the directive.
“As a country aspiring to develop a high-quality medical tourism industry, we satisfy all the required criteria, combining a beautiful Mediterranean environment with natural wealth, climate that is ideal for patient treatment and rehabilitation, tradition in healthy nutrition, historical and cultural heritage and internationally renowned medical professionals,” he said.
“Implementing the directive poses a unique opportunity to modernise our healthcare systems,” he said.