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By Hans Esser, for ExpatBriefing.com
17 July, 2014
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Union (EU) have incorporated 26 EU legal acts into the European Economic Area Agreement, including measures relating to cross-border healthcare, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), and the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme.
The EFTA member states, which are part of the EEA but outside the EU, are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
The EU Directive on the application of patients' rights in cross-border healthcare provides clarity about the rights of patients who seek healthcare in another EEA country. The new rules clarify that the citizens of one EEA Member State can be reimbursed for healthcare received in another member state, as long as the type of treatment and costs would have been covered in their own country.
Authorities may require patients to seek prior authorization for treatment requiring an overnight hospital stay or highly specialized and cost-intensive healthcare, although refusals will need to be justified according to a restricted list of possible reasons.
Two EU programs were also incorporated into the EEA Agreement at the same time. Liechtenstein will take part in the anti-discrimination Rights, Equality and Citizenship Program, while Norway will participate in the telecommunications part of the CEF. The CEF promotes the interconnection and interoperability of national networks, with a view to developing a Digital Single Market. Iceland will participate in both of these programs.
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