Liquid migration and patterns of health service consumption


Transnational migrants refuse to commit themselves to one national setting. Thus, the national social security administrations face a challenge to comply with EU regulations and directives on how the governmental and municipal forces and systems through economic policies, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems guarantee access to health services for European migrants. Using a longitudinal design, this study provides the most robust statistical assessment of the effect of migration on the patterns of health service consumption of Eastern European migrants. Using objective measurements and individual experiences of 6292 respondents, the study on Latvian migrants analyses perceived social insurance support (as it refers to health). The results suggest that the transnational migrants are aware of the quality, availability and costs of health services in their home country(-ies) and the country of origin. Despite the fear of the government of Latvia of the mass misuse of the social system, only four percent of the transnational migrants are using this possibility. The majority of the respondents admitted that they pay for the services themselves, and are mostly not aware or willing to use their rights in accordance with EU regulations. One of the main reasons for transnational migration depicting “medical tourism”, seems to be related to the health and social support needs, especially in regard to prophylactic check-ups, dentistry and different examinations not related to a serious illness. The results suggest that migrants in the EU are seeking for accessible and affordable health services disregard their social insurance benefits in any particular country. It remains to be studied what are the behavior patterns among migrants with acute and chronic conditions.


Key messages

  • The use of health services may not be related to the benefits of social insurance or economical aspects, rather on needs, quality and accessibility.
  • Health services might trigger an extensive transnational migration, but not benefits because of social insurance.