How would a correct transposition of the EU directive on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare alter consumer behavior in Finland?

Pursuant to the EU Directive on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare adopted in 2011, a Finnish citizen is entitled to reimbursement for the costs of healthcare received in another EU country. Finland has not, however, implemented the Directive as required by the European Commission (EC) and has been subject to the EC’s infringement procedure since 2015. As compared to the current practice in Finland, the posited implementation of the Directive would typically mean that the reimbursement received by a Finnish patient for the costs of treatment performed in another EU country would be manifold.

Avance Insight 02/2020 reports the findings of a 1,757-respondent survey coordinated by Avance Attorneys and conducted by Taloustutkimus, a premier market research company. The findings suggest that the posited implementation of the Directive would increase the share of Finns willing to travel to another EU country for medical treatment by two-thirds. If, in addition to the posited implementation of the Directive, health services abroad were available in Finnish and domestic waiting times were lengthy, four-fifths of Finns would be willing to seek treatment abroad.

In late 2020, PM Sanna Marin’s government is about to present its legislative proposal for a new social and health care reform to the Finnish parliament. The combination of the proposed reform and the posited implementation of the Directive would lead to a situation, in which a Finnish patient’s out-of-pocket expense for a private treatment abroad would be much smaller that the expense for a comparable private treatment in Finland. Unless public and private domestic provision can be scaled flexibly and swiftly, this would have rather significant public and private economic consequences. Moreover, the differences in reimbursement models would substantially distort the competitive situation between private health service providers located at different sides of the Finnish border.

A full copy (in Finnish) can be downloaded here.