Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Health
Cross-Border Health Services Provision
387. To ask the Minister for Health the procedures in place for persons who access treatment under the EU cross-Border directive in the UK; and if he has requested an arrangement with the UK to replace same. [9535/19]
388. To ask the Minister for Health if persons who may have to travel to other EU countries, thus accruing higher travel costs than if they travelled to the UK, for medical treatment under the EU cross-Border directive post-Brexit will receive financial assistance for travel costs. [9536/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 387 and 388 together.
The HSE operates the EU Cross Border Directive (CBD) in Ireland. Patients in Ireland can seek to be referred to another EU/EEA member state, including the UK, for medical treatment that is available in the public health service in Ireland. The patient may access the overseas service in either the public or private health sector of the EU/EEA member state they choose to receive the service in. The patient pays for the treatment and claims reimbursement from the HSE at the cost of that treatment in Ireland or the cost of it abroad, whichever is the lesser.
It is important to note that reimbursement is confined to the costs of the care itself, and all other costs associated with accessing care abroad, including travel costs, under the CBD are not reimbursed by the HSE.
There are currently no plans to introduce financial assistance for travel costs incurred under the CBD.
It is also important to emphasise that at present there are no changes to patient care in the UK under the CBD, as the UK continues to be a full member of the EU. Indeed until the UK formally withdraws from the European Union, it remains a full Member with all of its existing rights and obligations.
Nevertheless, the Irish and UK Governments are committed to maintaining access to health services currently facilitated by the Common Travel Area for both Irish and UK residents to ensure that, insofar as possible, there is minimum disruption to health services and that essential services are maintained on a Cross-Border, all-island and Ireland-UK basis post-Brexit.
In this regard, the Government's 'Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019' published last Friday contains provisions to allow me to make Orders and Regulations to enable necessary healthcare arrangements to be maintained between Ireland and the UK in a no-deal scenario, including those existing arrangements which enable access to health services in the UK for persons in the State.
The HSE operates the Cross Border Directive in Ireland. Patients in Ireland can seek to be referred to another EU/EEA country for medical treatment that is available in the public health service in Ireland. The patient may access the overseas service in either the public or private health sector of the country they choose to receive the service in. The patient pays for the treatment and claims reimbursement from the HSE at the cost of that treatment in Ireland or the cost of it abroad, whichever is the lesser.
The HSE's target for reimbursing patients for healthcare accessed abroad under the CBD is a maximum of 20 working days from receiving all the completed documents. However, the HSE confirmed that it currently takes approximately 64 days to process reimbursements. The HSE have confirmed the increase in processing times is due to a significant increase in the amount of applications received for the CBD.
Nevertheless, the HSE informs me that it remains committed to monitoring and reviewing this situation and providing reimbursement to CBD patients in a timely manner given the resources it has available.