Reflections on Health Tourism and Cross-Border Health Care

Document Type : Letter to Editor


1 Centre of Telemedicine and Telepharmacy, University of Camerino, Camerino, Italy

2 International Radio Medical Centre (C.I.R.M.), Roma, Italy


Medical tourism is recognized as one of the oldest forms of tourism to obtain medical services and health care of high quality.1 It requires the realization of several services, such as coordination and cooperation between countries,2 to safeguard the right of access to quality care, the right to reimbursement for medical services, and the privacy of patients. A 2008 report forecasted that the number of medical tourists would rise from 750 000 in 2007 to between 5.25 and 6.25 million by 2010, and to between 10.5 and 23.2 million by 2017.3 Patients are informed consumers claiming the right to choose healthcare providers, including professionals, outside their national borders. In this research, patients are supported and encouraged by several factors, including use of the Internet and information about services and health professionals. Health tourism is under development in different countries4 and is spreading across the European Union as an example of cross-border healthcare. Directive 2011/24/EU,5,6 which has considered various aspects of cross-border care, recognizes the right of patients to receive healthcare in another member state and the right to reimbursement for medical care. The aim of this directive is to provide more legal certainties about the right to care in other European States. The directive is structured in three main areas: (1) identifying the member state responsible for ensuring observance of health care principles; (2) specifying the rights of patients to health care in another state; and (3) establishing a framework for European cooperation... (Read more...)

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