Abstract

The effect of EU policy and its legal framework on health care in CEE member states has been complex. In relation to health care access and financial sustainability, it has been detrimental in certain parts of CEE. This has primarily been to the result of economic/fiscal governance instruments of the EU and free-movement rules facilitating outflows of health care professionals Although there has been a general improvement in access to health care since accession to the EU, the instruments the EU has used to handle the economic crisis have somewhat offset this improvement. Additionally, outflow of health care professionals has resulted in retention strategies such as salary increases and investments in medical infrastructure in some CEE member states, increasing the standard of health care. Still, differences between East and West in terms of important health indicators continue to exist, and EU instruments aimed at compensating this generally lack power to provide meaningful solutions. It seems more solidarity between member states is the only way to increase legitimacy of the European integration in CEE member states and thus prevent them from feeling as outsiders within the EU. Without such a development, CEE countries will continue to lag behind other parts of the Union.

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