Court cuts IKA red tape

All European Union social security funds must cover their pensioners’ treatment in other EU countries, even without prior approval and for chronic complaints, the European Court found yesterday in response to a suit by Greece’s Social Security Foundation (IKA). IKA had taken action in the Greek courts against one of its pensioners, Vassilios Ioannidis, who had required treatment for heart trouble during a trip to Germany. He had been carrying the E-111 insurance form that covered medical emergencies in other EU states. But the hospital that treated him decided that, due to the chronic nature of his complaint, he should have had the E-112 form that is issued in cases of treatment abroad for complaints the patients are already known to suffer from. The hospital asked IKA for an E-112, which would cover Ioannidis’s expenses, but IKA – which rarely issues the E-112 – refused and took the pensioner to court to recover the cost of his treatment. The Greek court then sought the European Court’s opinion on the matter.