European travellers short of prescription drugs, or on waiting-lists for dental surgery at home, will be reimbursed for care anywhere in the EU by late 2013, under a law approved by European Union parliament.
It states that if there is an undue delay in receiving hospital or dental treatment, an EU citizen can seek that treatment abroad, pay for it and have the cost reimbursed at home.
When a hospital stay is required, the directive says health services can request prior authorisation from doctors in the patient’s home country.
The prior authorisation clause is intended as a safeguard against any unexpected surge in foreign patients.
There is a restricted list of possible reasons why such request would be refused, to include certain risks to the patient or the public.
Patients on long waiting lists in their native countries, and those who are unable to find specialist attention, are expected to benefit from the new Directive.