AS many as 300,000 Spanish residents could have no entitlement to free healthcare.

Spain’s public health law – that anyone resident in Spain has the right to free medical care – was introduced in 1986.

But the condition for this free access – that the patient must pay into the Social Security system – means that hundreds of thousands of people are being forced to take out private health insurance.

According to the Health Ministry there are officially 18o,000 people currently left out of the public health system. But some experts believe the recession could mean a staggering 300,000 people now fall into this group.

It includes those who have never worked or the unemployed who no longer receive any state benefits, but have an income exceeding the Spanish minimum wage of 641 euros a month.

And most early retirees – even from other EU countries — could find themselves faced with a hefty bill after care.

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