FAQs - Organising planned medical treatment abroad
Am I allowed to get medical treatment abroad?
YES. You are allowed to go to another EU country for medical treatment and, under certain conditions, have your costs covered directly or have all or some of them reimbursed by your public health insurer.
EU rules on medical treatment abroad cover medical and dental care, medicine and hospitalisation. Your treatment costs will only be reimbursed if the treatment is among the benefits that you're entitled to at home. For example, spa health cures are part of health cover in some countries but not in others. Thus, you can only receive reimbursement for spa health cures abroad if your health insurance covers such cures in your own country.
I suffer from a rare disease which can't be treated in my home country. The treatment I need isn't even covered by my national healthcare system. Will my health insurer cover an operation I need because of this condition in another EU country?
The cost of your treatment abroad is covered only if the national social security system in the country where you're insured covers it. If it doesn't, your national health insurance body is not obliged to authorise treatment abroad or to reimburse the costs (although, of course, it may choose to do so).
Contact your national authorities to find out what options are available to you. Some help might also be available to you in your own country via the European reference networks – virtual, voluntary cross-border networks, bringing together highly specialised healthcare providers across Europe to help diagnose and treat patients suffering from rare or low prevalence complex diseases that require highly specialised healthcare and a concentration of knowledge and resources.
In the country where I am insured, there is a waiting list for the treatment I need. Under EU rules, am I entitled to get treatment abroad and have it reimbursed so I don't have to wait?
YES. Your national health insurance body cannot refuse you authorisation for treatment abroad just because there is a waiting list for that treatment in your home country. They must take into account your specific medical condition and prove that the waiting time is acceptable, based on an objective medical assessment of your needs.
Can I be refused authorisation for treatment?
YES. National health insurance authorities can refuse to give you prior authorisation if the treatment you need is not within your health insurance cover or if your treatment could be provided in your home country within a medically justifiable time limit. If they refuse to give you an authorisation, your national health insurance authority must explain the reasons for their decision, and they have to base their assessment on what is "medically justifiable" in your specific case.
You are always allowed to request a review of any administrative decisions relating to your case.
What should I do if something goes wrong while I'm getting medical treatment abroad?
You should contact the National Contact Point for the EU country where you're being treated. They will be able to explain your rights and give you information on any relevant follow-up administrative or medical procedures.
When you return to your home country, your health insurance authority has to give you the same follow-up treatment that you would have received if you'd had the treatment there.