In 2019 Youth Cancer Europe addressed the subject of Cross Border Health at the European Parliament; the second of five key topics included in YCE’s white paper.

EU citizens have the right to access healthcare in any EU country and to be reimbursed for care abroad by their home country. Directive 2011/24/EU on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare sets out the conditions under which a patient may travel to another EU country to receive medical care and reimbursement. It covers healthcare costs, as well as the prescription and delivery of medications and medical devices.

Despite being a hugely ambitious project with a directive that has been in place for over a decade, the implementation of Cross Border Health sees patients facing huge bureaucratic obstacles, with 4 out of 5 EU patients not even aware of its existence.

Sarunas Narbutas, Chairman of Youth Cancer Europe, said: “Four out of five people living in the EU do not know how to access treatment abroad. The Directive was adopted more than eight years ago; the Regulation, 15 years ago. Yet Member States to date done little to equip their citizens with life-saving information. National Contact Points that should have become guiding beacons in this quest to access healthcare abroad have proved to work only on paper, helping a mere 200 thousand patients per year to receive treatment abroad. In the European Union, 36 million people are living with rare diseases, many of whom cannot get adequate treatment in their own countries. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of young cancer patients are needlessly dying every year due to lack of information, not due to finances or lack of therapy options. If European authorities value the upcoming generation, they should start working on saving our lives”.