Policy Memo 43 The Directive 24 which may cause the Romanian medical system to explode, August 2013, Authors: Vlad Mixich
Approximately 1% of the European patients are currently using medical services in other Member States than the ones reside in. In Romania, this phenomenon is especially present in borderland areas where hospitals may be found that offer rather different medical services in terms of financial accessibility or better technology used, in a small scale geographical area.
As of now, it is impossible to estimate how wide-ranging the cross-border circulation of Romanian patients will be. Romanian authorities do not possess instruments that would enable them to monitor patients flow for patients who are not in a direct relationship with the Romanian insurer. If this flow increases after the Directive comes into force, it shall not do so immediately, but on medium term and it shall depend on the intensity of the information campaigns Romanian authorities carry out in regard to the extra benefits that Directive 24 offers to patients. The Romanian state is not interested however in having patients informed on theirs cross-border rights, as it shall lead to redirecting some amounts of money from Romanian suppliers of healthcare to the ones in other Member States.
This was the only solution which could support a seriously underfinanced healthcare system which at the same time needed to purchase medical technology for European prices in order to rise to the European standards that Romanian insured persons wanted. This official yet artificial undervaluation of tariffs will raise an implicit barrier in front of Romanian patients who shall want to receive cross-border medical assistance. This barrier practically consists of the hefty difference between the real tariff of medical services provided in a Member State and the official highly-undervalued tariff of the same service provided in Romania. From this viewpoint, the Directive shall clearly benefit Romanian patients with financial means whereas the others shall see no change.
As for the opportunity offered by the fact the Directive comes into force and thus Romania might become one of the destinations of European Healthcare tourism causing the low cost of Romanian workforce in the healthcare sector to become an advantage, the result is clear. Because of a healthcare and transport infrastructure which has not been modernized enough, Romania shall not become an important destination for medical tourism on a short and medium term.
Full report, in English, in available here.