Editorials

Is a European healthcare policy emerging?

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7307.248 (Published 04 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:248

Yes, but its nature is far from clear

  1. Elias Mossialos (e.mossialos@lse.ac.uk), research director,
  2. Martin McKee (martin.mckee@lshtm.ac.uk), research director
  1. European Observatory on Health Care Systems, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE
  2. European Observatory on Health Care Systems, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT

    In 1998 two rulings by the European Court of Justice caused alarm in health ministries across Europe. 1 2 Until then governments and insurance funds had believed that they had the right to decide whether they would pay for non-urgent treatment carried out abroad. Free movement of people within the European Union necessitates the provision of emergency care and also allows health authorities to send patients abroad for treatment not available in their own country. However, the authorities had to authorise this in advance.3 Now a further ruling by the court has brought some additional clarity but still leaves many questions unresolved.4

    The 1998 rulings involved two citizens of Luxembourg. Mr Decker, who had obtained spectacles, and Mr Kohll, who underwent orthodontic treatment, argued successfully that they should be reimbursed by the Luxembourg health insurance fund even though it had not authorised their treatment abroad.5

    One element of the Kohll …

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