Background: The European Union (EU) Directive on Patients' Rights in Cross-border Healthcare clarified the entitlements to medical care in other EU Member states. However, little is known about whether EU citizens have been travelling or are willing to travel to receive care. This study aimed to measure the determinants of cross-border patient mobility and willingness to travel to receive medical care in the EU, before and after the adoption of the Directive.
Methods: We used individual data from the Eurobarometer 210 (2007) and 425 (2014). In the 2 years, 53 439 EU citizens were randomly selected. We performed a logistic regression on the cross-border patient mobility and willingness to travel to other EU countries to use healthcare services as a function of the year (2007 or 2014), adjusting for age, gender, education and country size.
Results: In 2007, 3.3% of citizens reported cross-border mobility and 4.6% in 2014. The odds of cross-border patients' mobility were 11% higher in 2014, compared with 2007 [odds ratio (OR) 1.11, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02-1.21]. Also, mobility was 19% higher in males (OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.08-1.30) and 20% higher amongst the more educated (OR 1.20, 95% CI 1.09-1.31). However, the odds decreased 11% per decade of age (OR 0.89 per decade, 95% CI 0.85-0.93) and country size. In 2014, the willingness to travel decreased by 20% compared with 2007.
Conclusions: Cross-border patient mobility is more likely amongst the younger, the more educated and those from smaller countries. The directive does not seem to have promoted mobility at a large scale among the neediest citizens.