By Eloise Horsfield

THE Spanish government has announced 10 billion euros more of cuts in health and education – with some specifically targetting foreigners who ‘abuse the health service’.

These new austerity measures come in addition to the electricity hike and civil servant wage freeze announced in the PP’s budget last week.

“We must avoid foreigners abusing the health service in Spain,” said Spanish finance minister Cristobal Montoro on Radio Nacional de Espana.

“There are Europeans who come to Spain to use services which are not available in their own countries,” he said.

The Spanish health service is currently indebted by 20 billion euros.

Mariano Rajoy’s government hopes to cut seven billion from health and three billion from education, with an attempt to make these public services ‘more rational’, to ‘avoid duplication’ and ‘improve efficiency’.

Early reports suggest that the service will remain free at the point of use and that high earners will not be charged more, as has been previously discussed.

Montoro said a list of the cuts would be made available in two weeks’ time, with health minister Ana Mato to explain the changes, which are to be implemented at the end of April.

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  1. The issue is not that foreigners are abusing the health system, it is that Spain allows it to take place. The rules for allowing healthcare are straightforward for foreigners. If you are resident and paying into the system, or are a retiree, you are entitled to healthcare. EHICs are for emergency treatment only. If Spain can’t work out such a simple set of rules, then it deserves what it gets.

    As always, Spain blames the foreigners and never itself. Nothing changes.

  2. But foreigners do abuse the system. We all know of Brits (and other immigrants) working, not paying tax or social security but who send their children to school here and use the EHIC forms to get treatment, pretending they are on holiday.

  3. Sheilagh, if the tax wasnt so punative for start up businesses or autonemo then more people would pay it. Someone working autonemo earning say 1000 per month they pay the same flat rate of about 280 regardless, if you earn nothing one month you still have to pay it. the tax laws need a major overhaul so it doesnt punish people.

  4. Sheilagh, I am in agreement with you, so why don’t the Spanish just refuse treatment? It’s not rocket science is it? Show us your tarjeta sanitaria. Haven’t got one? Oh, then you must be a tourist with an emergency? Show us your EHIC? Treat the emergency. If not an emergency, please pay. No EHIC, no terjeta sanitaria, no treatment. Is this really all so difficult to do?

  5. Whilst I agree with you Sheilagh that there is some abuse, the Minister’s comments are designed to appeal to the Spanish voters. It’s a sideshow, because any service provided on an EHIC can be claimed back from the issuing country, and in any event it is really small beer compared to the Spanish economic problems which are measured in trillions of euros.Just irrelevant populist political stuff to deflect from the real problems

  6. Absolutely Steve. I would also say that the headline is emotive and scare mongering. The point about targetting foreigners will be a small part of the whole austerity plan. Anybody with the right documentation will get treated.

    I am self-employed, pay tax and social security. Yes sometimes it is difficult but you budget for it. The upside is I am exempt from IVA so swings and roundabouts. Now where did I put that Daily Mail?

  7. What is wrong with the following?…

    “We must avoid foreigners abusing the health service in Spain,” said Spanish finance minister Cristobal Montoro on Radio Nacional de Espana.
    “There are Europeans who come to Spain to use services which are not available in their own countries,” he said.

    The simple answer is ‘nothing’. If that’s what it is designed to do. I already pay for too much for an average healthcare system so, for me, I think it’s a good measure.

    Amazing how an OTT headline can shape how people misread an article.

    How about, ‘new government measure to support honest tax payers’? Nah, not enough ‘tabloid’ in that

  8. Nellie, noone has misread the article, the Spanish finance minister said they they are targetting foreigners, and that means expatriates as well. I want the scroungers weeded out too; I just don’t want all foreigners to be tarred with the same brush.

  9. The minister said the target is foreigners who abuse the system, not foreigners full stop.

    There can be little disputing that the service here is stretched by people abusing the system. If they introduce measures to limit that (they’ll never stop it completely) then all to the good of the people who don’t abuse it.

  10. I agree with Steve, those who are getting care under the EHIC should be paying into the system somewhere in Europe and therefore the Spanish system can claim back from the country involved. The problem is, when people are not paying into the system in their home countries and know that they can continue to use the benefits of the system. If you work out of Spain, you are not able to stop the payments to the health system of the country where you pay tax.. I don´t think that this system is working for either the countries that are under the banner of the EU, of for those who really are working and paying in somewhere. You should be able to choose where you pay your health care, regardless of where you live and work. Anyone who is not paying into the pot somewhere should not be able to utilise health care!

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