Friday, 31 May 2013

Free medical assistance abroad not being enforced

The enforcement of European consumer protection rules is still less than ideal in many Member States. One of the benefits that was introduced for the Europeans was the European Health Insurance Card that enables Europeans to access free healthcare in public hospitals across the EU. This measure sounds very consumer-friendly, since, for examples, consumers travelling abroad for holidays and getting injured, while for example cycling or having (too much) fun in waterparks, could then get (more or less) immediate medical assistance without paying for it more than what their holidays cost. Unfortunately, it looks like one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe - Spain - doesn't comply with the EU rules. Some of the Spanish hospitals refuse to accept the EHIC, which means that tourists still have to pay for medical help and only later may reclaim it from their insurance companies. The European Commission started now the infringement proceedings against Spain by asking Spain to provide more information on this issue. (EU warns Spain over hospitals' rejections of EU health card) In the meantime, European Commission could consider issuing more detailed information on how the EHIC is supposed to work to public hospitals (possibly through Member States), so that travelling Europeans did not have to face having to pay enormous medical bills while abroad. 

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