Variability in health care treatment costs amongst 9 EU countries

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.

In an innovative and insightful collection of papers - published tomorrow as a supplement to Health Economics - a group of EU policy analysts and economists have addressed the issue of treatment cost variations using a ‘case vignette' 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 by vignette found that prices varied greatly. For example, the total cost of hip replacement per patient ranged from €1290 (£948) in Hungary to €8739 (£6422) in the Netherlands, with a mean cost of €5043 (£3707). 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.

The supplementary papers (listed below) will be freely available on the Health Economics website (

  • Editorial: Variability in healthcare treatment costs amongst nine EU countries - results from The HealthBASKET Project by Reinhard Busse, Jonas Schreyögg and Peter C. Smith
  • The hospital costs of care for stroke in nine European countries by David Epstein, Anne Mason and Andrea Manca
  • Health service costs in Europe: cost and reimbursement of primary hip replacement in nine countries by Tom Stargardt
  • Cross-country comparisons of costs: the use of episode-specific transitive purchasing power parities with standardised cost categories by Jonas Schreyögg, Oliver Tiemann, Tom Stargardt and Reinhard Busse
  • Costs and prices of single dental fillings in Europe: a micro-costing study by Siok Swan Tan, W. en Redekop and Frans F. H. Rutten
  • What can we learn from a cross-country comparison of the costs of child delivery" by Martine M. Bellanger and Zeynep Or
  • Cost and reimbursement of cataract surgery in Europe: a cross-country comparison by Giovanni Fattore and Aleksandra Torbica
  • A micro-costing approach to estimating hospital costs for appendectomy in a cross-European context by Jonas Schreyögg
  • Variations in hospitalisation costs for acute myocardial infarction – a comparison across Europe by Oliver Tiemann


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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