The EU “Right” of Health Care -This Should Be Fun to Watch

Bogged down with a failing health care system with huge waiting times, Brits are sure they’ve been saved by a new EU directive:

Patients will be able to escape NHS queues by demanding treatment anywhere in the European Union without the prior approval of a doctor, under proposals to guarantee health rights unveiled today in Brussels.

The NHS would then be duty bound to refund the British cost of the procedure under the new rules for cross-border healthcare.

Today’s proposed EU directive will give patients in all 27 member states the same rights to treatment on the NHS as British patients. It also guarantees that the full cost of treatment abroad will be refunded when an NHS professional has agreed that it is necessary for the patient to go overseas.

We here in the US call this “the Canadian Plan”.

The happy, cheery Health Commissioner said:

“Patients will be able to receive treatment in any member state, which will be reimbursed at home up to the level of the same or similar treatment in their health system,” said Androula Vassiliou, the Health Commissioner.

“They will not need prior authorisation. However, if unpredictable cross-border healthcare becomes a problem, the system could put into place a system of prior authorisation to safeguard the system.

What “system” is being talked about here? Given this directive, the “system” is the “EU system” in its entirety. However, what Vassiliou seems to be saying is they reserve the right to reject (through requiring prior authorization) patients should they deem the other country’s “system” to be in jeopardy. And that seems to be a bit of a contradiction doesn’t it?

But that doesn’t stop the happy talk, does it?

She added: “Patients from any country will enjoy equal treatment with the nationals of the country in which they are being treated and cannot be discriminated against.”

This means that in countries with long waiting lists, patients from abroad will have to join the queue.

She added: “It will allow excessive demand from one country to be met by excessive capacity in another country. This is the essence of the co-operation.”

It also means having to pay private providers as well.

You wait until eastern European patients start flooding western European medical facilities. Or Brits head into France and Germany while the UK’s NHS pulls a US Medicare trick and refuses to reimburse French and German medical institutions at the rate they require.

My guess is a system of “authorization” will be in place so fast it will make your head swim (“I’m sorry, we don’t take NHS patients”).

And since, in Europe, health care is a “right” now, how about this?

Dr Terry John, chairman of the British Medical Association’s International Committee, said: “We believe patients are entitled to safe, high-quality healthcare. Usually they want to be treated as close to home as possible, but it is understandable why some people want to seek treatment abroad.

“However, these proposals must not be allowed to erode the fundamental values of universality, accessibility and equality that should underlie healthcare. Patient mobility must not just be for the wealthy and educated.

Yes friends, if you want to escape those queues in the UK you have to pay your own travel and accommodation costs.

So, as I’m sure we’ll see argued, this ruling is mostly for the rich! And yes, you’re right – you can see it coming a mile off – travel and accommodation costs for medical care will soon be a “right” as well.

One of the commenters to the article says:

What an excellent idea! I live in Germany and only wish that my family back in the UK could experience the great healthcare that is available here.

Diana Taylor, Augsburg, Germany

Oh, not to worry Ms. Taylor – they and half of Britain will most likely be on your doorstep “experiencing” it before you know what hit you.

Ah, the law of unintended consequences is licking its chops on this one.

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