EXPATS dividing their time between Britain and Spain should be able to claim back the cost of Spanish medical treatment on the NHS from 2013.
The Cross Border Healthcare directive, which affects all EU states, will allow patients to have elective surgery at a state hospital wherever they live instead of travelling back to the UK.
Implementation of the move – originally scheduled for 2011 – has been hampered by disputes between countries. But it is now expected that all states will sign up by 2013.
A sticking point has been whether patients using the proposed system should be reimbursed in full. The UK has successfully resisted full repayment to the patient whatever the bill.
Patients will be reimbursed only to the cost of the procedure in their home state.
In addition, a doctor in the patient’s home country will need to approve treatment in advance.
Specialised treatments will be subject to more rigorous advanced approval, and organ transplants and long-term care are excluded.