Empirical evidence on patient mobility in Europe is lacking despite widespread legal, policy and media attention which the phenomenon attracts. This paper presents quantitative data on the health care seeking behaviour of German students at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. A cross-sectional survey design was applied with a mixed-methods approach including open and closed questions. Questionnaire items were based on a theoretical model of patient mobility and input from focus group discussions with German students living in Maastricht. 235 valid surveys were completed, representing ca. 8% of the target population. Data collection took place in Oct-Dec 2010. Of respondents who received medical care over the last two years, 97% returned to Germany; of these, 76% travelled to their home city for medical treatment. 72% received care only in Germany, i.e. not even once in Maastricht. Distance partly influenced whether students travelled to Germany, returned home or stayed in Maastricht, and the type of care accessed. Key motivations were familiarity with home providers/system, and reimbursement issues. In the context of the new EU Directive on patients' rights, the findings call into question whether Europeans use entitlements to cross-border care and what the real potential of patient mobility is. The results demonstrate the existence and magnitude of return movements as a sub-group of patient mobility.
- Patient mobility
- Patients' rights Directive
- EU entitlements
- Cross-border health care
- Health care seeking behaviour