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CJEU - C 444/05 / Opinion

Aikaterini Stamatelaki v NPDD Organismos Asfaliseos Eleftheron Epangelmation (OAEE)

Deciding Body type:
Court of Justice of the European Union
Deciding Body:
European Court of Justice
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

This case concerned the way in which the financing of cross-border medical services might be treated under EU law. The applicant was married to a cancer sufferer who died in August 2000. Prior to his death, the sufferer had received cancer treatment in a private hospital in the UK. His widow sought reimbursement of the amount paid from her husband’s medical insurance company. The national rule maintained that reimbursement for treatment in a private establishment in another Member State was not valid.

Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:

The AG advised that a “national rule which prohibits reimbursement by an insurance body of the cost of treatment of a person insured with it in a private hospital abroad except in cases concerning children under 14 years of age, but allows reimbursement if the treatment has been provided in a private hospital on national territory, if it has entered into an agreement or in the case of an emergency, constitutes an unjustified and disproportionate restriction on the freedom to provide services enshrined in Article 49 EC.”

Interpretation of article(s) and implications for the resolution of the case:

FRC - Article 35: "... the right of citizens to health care, proclaimed in Article 35 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union ... ‘being a fundamental asset, health cannot be considered solely in terms of social expenditure and latent economic difficulties’." (Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on ‘Healthcare’, approved by the Plenary Session on 16 and 17 July 2003 (OJ 2003 C 234, p. 36)). "This right is perceived as a personal entitlement, unconnected to a person’s relationship with social security..." Although the AG considered the matter in terms of the freedom to provide services within the Community he noted also that “citizens’ right to health care are unjustifiably and disproportionately restricted” (para 65) by the national measure. The AG concluded that “[t]he absolute terms of the prohibition are not appropriate to the objective pursued, because there are measures which are less restrictive and more in keeping with the fundamental freedom and (…) with the right to health care.” (para 70)