24 Apr, 2012 @ 18:34
1 min read

Anger at Spanish health reforms

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.

James Bryce

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  1. “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”.

    Should it read “a residency card OR be studying…” or “a residency card AND be studying…”?

  2. 917 million out of 20 billion. Problem solved! Not.

    Any country that allows their health service to fall in to such attrocious debt levels in the first place needs to examine the people running the service, not the people using it.

  3. I would like to know the definition of foreigner here, does it mean all foreigners or just non EU citizens. If it means all ex pats Spain is not just reducing it’s debt but tearing up the EU rule book as well.

  4. I must have been mislead somewhere along the line because I was under the impression that expats living in spain for a year had to have a residency card to work anyway in order to pay their dues, so it would cover them to use the health service.

    I am not that naive to know that there are people who are living in spain who work and do not pay any taxes and when they get ill they go back to the uk to use the NHS. But I was told after a year you have to have spanish residency to work.

    My sister once took unexpectedly ill while on holiday in spain and ended up having an opperation and said she could not fault the service and the spanish couple who they rented their appartment from was fantastic and even went with my brother in-law to hospital and helped out with the language barrier but it was an emergency situation so probably different in those cases.

  5. Lori, Under current legislation EU citizens now need NIE number to work in Spain – not a residency card. As Peter stated the need for a residency card was abolished five years ago. EU citizens need to have an NIE number and register as a resident (for which they will receive a worthless piece of paper)

  6. Having been to the police station to put myself on residencia register and get a little green card, I can confirm that the rules have changed since the health reforms came into force.
    Pensioners now have to have a certificate from their bank managers to state they have a minimum pension of 423 euros paid monthly into their accounts and they have to show proof of private health care or have an S1 form from the UK. People who are working need to present their “vida laboral” (this takes 3 days to come from the social security and can be ordered online and sent free to your home). As well as the above you need to present your old residencia if you have it, photocopy and original passport plus pay 10.20 euros tax.
    If you are not working, don’t have a pension basically you will not get a residence card. I don’t understand how the embassy has not updated their webpage with this new information as it came into force 8 days ago.

  7. I agree with Alexandra’s comment about the Embassy web page. The same applies for the health entitlement and prescriptions. Perhaps it may be that other autonomous regions have not yet decided how UK pensioners prove their income. We in Murcia have heard rumours that we will have to produce a Fiscal Residency Certificate to prove we are resident here and paying taxes, or have a nil return because the state pension is way below the Spanish tax allowance of 11,200 euros p.a.?

  8. Steph – the Spanish Health Care System has admitted their “administration” has not been entirely successful in billing other countries for due expenses, or following up to obtain those monies due. Hence the large debt for unpaid health care. Rather than fix the billing/followup problem, maybe we “just cut off the services”??!!

  9. BoS is quite correct. There has never really been an issue with foreigners taking health services illegally. The problem is Spain not doing the necessary work and claiming back the money from the UK.

  10. I was miscarrying a baby and was left for two and a half hours standing before being told to piss off… when I say that I mean it
    I had the right papers. I had the health targets and we pay 307,00+ euros every month autonomo… plus all the thousands of tax we pay.

    how do you do it?
    anyone out there please… with sugar on top obv.

  11. I have lived and worked in spain for 16 years paid all my taxes i have residency and all the papers required, only to be told i have to pay 100% for my medication is there anyone else who is english in this situation.

  12. Can anyone tell me will they except a joint income of over 423 Euros x2 per month, as I have 650 Euros but my wife has only 300 Euros per month. We live in the Almeria provice.

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