A CONSUMER group has branded the government’s decision to deny healthcare to unregistered foreigners as an ‘immoral perversion which could lead to deaths’.
It follows an announcement by Health Minister Ana Mato, which revealed that health cover will be unavailable to certain immigrants after August 31.
Beyond that date, expats will need to have a residency card, be studying or working, or have a health insurance policy covering all eventualities in Spain, in order to obtain treatment.
The measure – designed to tackle so-called ‘health tourism’ – will not affect children or pregnant women and does not apply to emergency treatment.
“The measure is the start of the creation of one health service for the rich and another for the poor,” said FACUA-Consumers in Action President Francisco Sanchez Legran.
The Spanish health service is currently 20 billion euros in debt, with figures suggesting 700,000 foreigners abused the system in 2009, costing the Spanish health service 917 million euros.
The government hopes to cut seven billion from the health budget in a bid to make it more cost effective, with services provided to unregistered foreigners at the heart of the planned measures.
“We must avoid foreigners abusing the health service in Spain,” said Spanish finance minister Cristobal Montoro recently.