The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Cross-Border Healthcare
Purpose: This article presents an overview of cross-border healthcare provided in the Member States based on Directive 2011/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2011 on applying patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare. Geographical and cultural proximity is among the most critical drivers for cross-border healthcare in the EU. Several restrictions, including the freedom of movement, were introduced to prevent the further spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These restrictions impacted payer expenditure, healthcare providers’ income, and patients’ access to healthcare services. Design/Methodology/Approach: Overall, when comparing data from the full calendar years 2019 and 2020, one may conclude that the expenditure related to patient migration based on the social security systems was not influenced significantly. However, there is a significant difference in the cost of the utilization of cross-border healthcare based on patient migration. Findings: The data on the latter should be interpreted with caution due to the frequent changes in the regulations regarding prior authorization of healthcare and the freezing of elective care during the pandemic. Practical Implications: This paper also provides insights into the ongoing digitalization of Poland’s healthcare system. Originality/Value: These efforts in improving interoperability and enabling patient data exchange can contribute to the further development of cross-border healthcare.