Economists have found that healthcare treatment costs vary greatly across countries in the European Union (EU).
With “health tourism” rising across the European Union, consumers, insurers and governments are increasingly interested in the relative cost of common procedures in different countries.
A group of EU policy analysts and economists addressed the issue of treatment cost variations using an approach that standardises patients in nine European countries needing care for hip replacements, stroke, acute myocardial infarction, birth delivery, appendectomy, cataract and dental filling.
The comparison of cost components found that prices varied greatly. For example, the total cost of hip replacement per patient ranged from the equivalent of £948 in Hungary to the equivalent of £6,422 in the Netherlands, with a mean equivalent cost of £3,707.
The findings have been revealed in a collection of papers published as a supplement to the journal Health Economics.
The analysts argue that the large differences in cost and reimbursement for primary total hip replacement between Eastern European countries and other EU member states creates opportunities for cross-border trade.
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“Simple logic – in any given year, the NHS is funded X pounds to treat a population of Y patients. If Y increases by migration or ‘tourism’ then X will be insufficient!” – Name and address supplied