Surgery funded by HSE available in EU, patients here told
Patients in Ireland will be able to access healthcare, including surgery, scans and specialist consultations, in another EU member states and be reimbursed by the HSE when they return home.
However, patients' travel costs will not be covered.
Declan Doyle, a concerned citizen from Kilkenny, called on TDs and MEPs to highlight the scheme, saying many people are unaware of it or that a central HSE office was set up in February to administer it.
The scheme was given the green light by the EU in 2014 and means that anyone in Ireland who faces a wait to have an operation, see a specialist, have a scan carried out, or undergo treatment for orthodontics can ask their GP to refer them to a public or private hospital abroad.
The HSE reimburses them to the value of what the procedure would cost the State in Ireland. It does not cover travel expenses.
Mr Doyle told the Irish Independent: "I consider that the potential for dignified health provision in Ireland as a consequence of the recently instituted Cross Border Directive 2011/24/EU will remain a potential, unless citizens become aware of it."
Areas covered include dental care, psychology, physiotherapy and mental health services.
More than 400,000 people are currently on a waiting list to see a specialist or have some other outpatient care. More than 67,000 people are waiting for surgery.
Patients need to be referred by their doctor and to pay the costs up front.
They will be reimbursed within two weeks of returning home.
Mr Doyle has asked MEPs to approach credit unions to set up a bridging loan scheme to help with the initial outlay.
The HSE gives an example of someone who goes to France for a hip operation costing €11,000, spending five nights in hospital.
The procedure costs €10,000 in Ireland and that is the sum they will be reimbursed, less the €75 a night hospital charge they would have paid here. The patient would be reimbursed €9,625. They pay their own travel costs.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said yesterday that it will examine if there is a need to improve access to information about the scheme.