Health care crosses borders in E.U.

Dr. Maura Shea examines patient Michelo Cineas at the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, Mass.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: Today, the European Commission made an intriguing new health care proposal. It would allow people to travel to another E.U. country to get treatment, then come home and give their home country the bill.

We're joined now by our reporter Megan Williams in Rome. Megan, what prompted this idea?

Megan Williams: Well, this all stems from a case with a 75-year-old woman. She was a British citizen who went to France. She said she didn't want to wait a full year for a hip replacement, and so went and had the operation there, and wanted to be reimbursed by England. So she took the case to the E.U. court, and they ruled that she should be reimbursed by England. And that triggered this proposed change of rules.

Jagow: Well, that was just one case though. Is this something that has happened more than once? Is this something that's ongoing?

Williams: Yeah, I mean that was the tip of the iceberg really. There are a lot of people -- particularly in England, which has had a lot of problems with its national health service -- who can't get timely care. So a lot of British citizens want to go elsewhere within Europe for health care.

Jagow: So Megan, what kind of opposition is there to this idea?

Williams: Well obviously, you know, people who work within Britain's national health service, they'd like to improve it, no doubt. But their fear is that if there's a long wait or if someone's not satisfied with the level of care in Britain that they're going to leave the country. And of course, Britain wants to stop that to a certain extent because the cost is really high. And in the long run, that will undermine the services that are being offered within Britain.

Jagow: OK, Megan Williams in Rome. Thank you.

Williams: Thanks, Scott.

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