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Patient mobility in the context of austerity and an enlarged EU: The European Court of Justice's ruling in the Petru Case

Markus Frischhut and Rosella Levaggi

Health Policy, 2015, vol. 119, issue 10, 1293-1297

Abstract: Since 1998, the European Court of Justice (EUCJ) has established a set of principles concerning patient mobility across Member States. At present, these principles are challenged against a new background, i.e., an enlarged EU and austerity-driven measures in the field of healthcare. This is even more relevant in view of the significant differences between countries and between services on healthcare access. In the Petru case, a Romanian woman sought healthcare in Germany due to an alleged lack of basic infrastructure in her local Romanian hospital. A crucial question arises in this context of whether the patient′s interests (i.e., right to cross-border healthcare) or the Member State′s interests (i.e., financial stability of the healthcare system) prevail. We analyse this case and its implications for future patient mobility. From the point of view of patients, the EUCJ′s decision implies that also a lack of medication and basic medical supplies can be claimed as “undue delay”, however for Member States it is sufficient to provide quality treatments in at least one hospital. Although the Court has provided a solution for the Petru case, we argue that major challenges remain, such as the definition of the international state-of-the-art or other limitations to reductions of the health basket.

Keywords: European Union; Patient mobility; Austerity measures; EU Enlargement; European Court of Justice (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H51 I18 K32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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