Waiting lists are a serious problem in countries like Ireland. The European Directive on cross-border healthcare allows Irish patients to access safe and good quality treatment across EU borders, solving quickly and effectively the waiting lists problems. But this healthcare directive still remains relatively unknown.

Unlike the HSE’s travel abroad scheme, it is not limited to patients unable to receive treatment in Ireland. Thanks to the EU Directive for Crossborder Healthcare an Irish patient can receive planned medical treatment in any EU country.

And how does all this work? The EU directive gives you the right to purchase healthcare services in another EEA country and apply for reimbursement from the HSE, as long as the treatment is medically necessary and would be made available to you under the HSE. You will have to pay the costs upfront, but you can claim reimbursement when you return, up to the amount the treatment would have cost under the HSE. Once a patient has a referral from their doctor saying they require a treatment, there are no financial restrictions placed on them beyond what they might expect to experience at home in Ireland. It covers both treatment given in state-run hospitals and private service providers.

New figures have shown that awareness of the scheme is rapidly on the up. The last nine months have seen the amount of money paid out under it than double, and the list of conditions patients are travelling to have treated has also grown.

HSE Europen Directive healthcare

Patients are travelling to receive a wider range of treatments, including:

  • Orthopedics
  • Orthodontics
  • Urology
  • Ear, nose and throat treatments
  • General surgery

According to different surveys, most Irish patients availing of treatment abroad under the European Directive on cross-border healthcare report positive experiences. They can combine a medical treatment in a specialised hospital in EU and a holiday in health destinations like Spain. You can find more information about your rights to healthcare abroad here.