FAQs - Planned medical treatment abroad
Affected by Brexit?
Am I allowed to get medical treatment abroad?
YES. You are allowed to go to another EU country for medical treatment, under certain conditions. If you're covered by a social security scheme in an EU country, you should be entitled to have the costs of treatment abroad paid for. It doesn't matter what nationality you have, as long as you are legally resident in one of these countries.
EU rules on medical treatment abroad cover medical and dental care, medicine and hospitalisation, and direct payments to reimburse the cost of these services. Usually your treatment costs will only be covered if the national health insurance body where you are insured recognises the treatment. For example, the cost of spa health cures is covered in some countries but not in others.
I would like to go to another EU country for medical treatment. What do I have to do?
First, check that your national health system or insurance covers the treatment. Then, there are two different procedures, depending on the type of treatment.
Option 1 - prior authorisation
You will be reimbursed according to the conditions and reimbursement rates in the country where the treatment takes place. If you choose this option, you can access publicly provided healthcare, and you'll need to apply to your national health insurance body for prior authorisation (form S2) to go abroad for treatment.
If you have a right under national law to the treatment you're applying for, but it can't be provided within a reasonable time frame, authorisation must be granted. If you're not automatically entitled to the treatment, however, your national health insurance body may decide to refuse authorisation.
If you've obtained form S2, your treatment costs will be reimbursed according to the rules in the country where you're treated. This will be dealt with by the relevant institutions in your home country and the country of treatment, so as a rule you will not have to pay upfront. If the reimbursement rules are less favourable in the country where you get treatment than the rules ofyour own national health insurance body, the difference will be refunded to you.
Option 2 - claim reimbursement after treatment
You can opt to pay upfront for your treatment and claim reimbursement later according to the reimbursement rates applied for the same treatment in the country where you're insured. If you're insured in a country that doesn't have a reimbursement scheme, then your national health insurance body will be able to give you a tariff based on the cost of that treatment to the national health system. It doesn't matter whether the hospital or clinic where you'll be treated is public or private.
In some limited cases you may have to apply for prior authorisation - check this with your health insurance body or National Contact Point. Again, your application must be granted if you would otherwise have to wait too long for treatment at home.
I suffer from a rare disease which can't be treated in my home country. It 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.
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 authorities can refuse to give you prior authorisation if the treatment and/or the level of service offered by the healthcare provider is deemed to pose a potential risk to your health. They can also refuse to give you prior authorisation if your treatment could be provided in your home country within a medically justifiable time limit.
If they refuse to give you authorisation, your national health authority must explain the reasons for their decision, and they have to base their assessment of 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 authority has to give you the same follow-up treatment that you would have received if you'd had the treatment there.