Ensuring patient rights through cross-border patient mobility

Within the scope of the third Legal Accessibility project, we have made progress on issues that are important for the enforcement of patients’ rights. The Hungarian healthcare system faces a number of problems, and from this point of view the importance of cross-border cooperation is negligible. However, in two aspects, the issue will soon become acute.

  • On the one hand, cross-border patient mobility has started and is becoming more and more widespread. At the moment, 93.000 Hungarian workers are employed in Austria, and their health care is partly provided by the Austrian healthcare system, which has to be partly compensated by the National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary. By contrast we can observe the opposite phenomenon in the movement of patients along the Hungarian-Slovakian border: more and more Slovak patients are using the services of Hungarian hospitals, which affects the balance and plannability of the Slovak health insurance system. More and more people from the Serbian and Romanian side of the border are visiting a Hungarian private medical practice, which partly provide their services using the state infrastructure – in some cases it effects negatively persons insured by the National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary. These problems lead to serious health economic impacts, and their solution requires the creation of legal instruments.
  • On the other hand, one of the great achievements of EU integration is to reduce the dividing role of borders. As a result, there is a growing need to functional border areas in these regions by increasing the availability of cross-border services. The directive 2011/24 of the EU and the European Parliament intended to facilitate this process. However, as the report published in 2018 points it out, the application of the directive at national level is seriously impeded. Nonetheless, it is a principle that no one should die because of a state border if there is a healthcare facility in the immediate vicinity of the border where they can prevent the person’s death. In fact, contesting this principle questions the essence of the European Union.

By the end of 2019, building upon the results of the 2018 project, we will develop specific legal solutions to successfully address this problem. The project includes the following activities:

  • monitoring  the institutional and legal environment,
  • assessment of the 4 specific border hospitals,
  • proposing the text of intergovernmental agreements in order to facilitate cross-border patient care (where necessary),
  • proposing an initiative on the cross-border movement of ambulances
  • organizing a professional seminar for the international medical rescue committee,
  • preparation of model contracts for the hospitals concerned in cross-border services, involving the relevant partners;
  • writing a handbook for organizing cross-border patient care.

We also want to involve external experts in the tasks mentioned above.