Irish crossing borders for healthcare

Longer hospital waiting lists are a key reason more Irish residents seek cross border healthcare. Record 530,000 people waiting for care, some waiting more than 18 months for treatment.According to the EU Cross -Border Healthcare Directive, Irish patients are entitled to receive healthcare and procedures abroad that they would be eligible for within the Irish healthcare system, with treatment including dental care, physiotherapy and mental health services.

Longer waiting lists mean that more Irish people are going to other countries, with the main destination being the short land border crossing to Northern Ireland. There is a record 530,000 people waiting for care, some waiting more than 18 months for treatment.

According to the Health Service Executive the amount reimbursed to patients in 2014 was €29,246 for 7 claims; €571,631 for 157 claims in 2015 and for 2016 up until the end of June the amount is €533,199 for 371 claims. So although the amount of claims is up hugely for this year compared with the entire of 2015, the amount of patients availing of the scheme is still relatively small compared to the size of waiting lists for procedures at all hospitals within the Irish State.

Half went to Northern Ireland, the rest went to the British mainland, Continental Europe, and Scandinavia.

According to the Department of Health website: “The Directive on Patients’ Rights in Cross Border Healthcare provides rules for the reimbursement to patients of the cost of receiving treatment abroad, where the patient would be entitled to such treatment in their home Member State and supplements the rights that patients already have at EU level. This Directive is different to the HSE’s travel abroad scheme as it isn’t only for those patients unable to receive treatment in Ireland. It allows Irish patients to have their pick of the EU’s healthcare systems, so people should be aware of this.”