5 Sep, 2012 @ 12:58
1 min read

‘Healthcare must be free for all’, says Andalucia Junta

Maria Jesus Montero health boss andalucia

ANDALUCIA is ignoring government orders to deny the region’s 46,000 undocumented immigrants free healthcare.

It comes after Madrid brought in new rules this week preventing those without residency from using health services except in cases of emergency.

An estimated 910,342 foreigners have lost their health cards which is expected to save around €1.5 billion a year.

But Andalucia has confirmed that the foreigners can ‘rest easy’ as the Junta will shoulder the costs.

“We are talking about a universal, free healthcare system that cannot change from one day to the next,” said health boss Maria Jesus Montero.

“We can’t just stop treating these people.”

Asturias, the Basque country, Canary Islands and Cataluna have also objected to the ban. Meanwhile the move sparked protests in Madrid with hundreds gathering under the banners ‘These aren’t cuts, they are xenophobia!’

Eloise Horsfield

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  1. Self-interest should be the foremost consideration. To have a pool of untreated people with possible infectious diseases within the rest of the population is a recipe for disaster. (Leaving aside humanitarian considerations, as xenophobes are wont to.)

  2. Those who “sit on the seat of power” in government, cannot “legislate away” the Hipocratic Oath taken by medical professionals to give treatment to ALL those in need. If tried, the medical professionals would likely go on strike so again the government shoots itself in its foot. Government politicians must strain themselves to design a foreign patient identification system and billing/collection system that WORKS
    Other countries have done that for years, so can Spain NOW to avoid losses on medical treatment given in Spain.

  3. J Molitor – “Those who “sit on the seat of power” in government, cannot “legislate away” the Hipocratic Oath taken by medical professionals to give treatment to ALL those in need.”

    Actually many (perhaps even most) modern medical professionals don’t take the Hippocratic Oath anymore. It is also more likely that those who do will be taking a modern version, with some parts stripped out. For example, most references to swearing by the Greek deities (Apollo, Asclepius, etc.) have been removed. So has the part that stated if a patient, “is in need of money to give him a share of mine.” Also the parts that stated, “I will not use a knife…”, “…will neither give a deadly drug…”, “…will teach without fee…”, and a few other parts.

    Basically the modern Hippocratic Oath is radically different and there are various forms, depending on where the medical professional finishes school. Some explicitly prohibit euthanasia. Others prohibit abortion. Still others got rid of the Hippocratic tradition all together.

    The most common version of the modern Hippocratic Oath (1964 version by Lasagna) does not require that physicians treat “all” persons.

    But the real issue is economic. There is no such thing as “free” health care. Someone is paying for it. And if the demand for a quality service exceeds the resources needed for that service, either the quantity or quality of the service declines. This is just basic economics. High quality health service costs more money than low quality health service. This means one of two things – you pay for your own health care out of pocket or you pay for health care in taxes. Want quality and availability for all? Raise taxes. The Junta isn’t shouldering any costs, because the Junta is funded by taxpayers. The people paying taxes are shouldering the cost.

  4. Carla,
    keep on posing intelligent questions, to which I would add that when visiting the UK we have to take our Carte Vitale with us as we are no longer eligible for ‘free’ treatment. However many immmigrants living in the UK help their relatives who don’t live in the UK to get ‘free’ treatment and then return home, paid for by the UK mugs who actually pay taxes – for once I agree with central government in Madrid – and that’s a first.

    BTW – last year there were 30,000 Spanish who came to the UK and signed on, receiving benefits – how many Brits receive benefits in Spain – serious question this – anyone got the answer?

  5. I have lived here for some time now and recently 2 of my children have been diagnosed with Diabetes type 1. Today I have been to the Seguridad Social to see if I can have Health Cards for my children to be told that I have to get their medication from the UK! I told them I/my children no longer have rights to healthcare in the UK. I was told to use my childrens EHIC’s, which I can’t because the Medical Centre will not let me use these for regular prescriptions anymore (insulin/glucose test strips) At the moment I am having to buy the glucose strips (85 euros – 20 days worth of strips per child!) I told the SS that I am desperate, I can’t afford their medication, they took copies of my Residencia, Padron, Passport and EHIC and said he needs to speak to Granada and to come back next week. What happened to Free Healthcare for children in Europe? I’m sure there is a directive about it.

  6. We are retired UK citizens in Andalucia for the winter… essentially an extended holiday.

    My wife needs monthly medications and she’d had the foresight to obtain a 6-month prescription with us. The pharmacy looked at it and agreed it gave them authority to prescribe the medications, but as it wasn’t from a Spanish doctor, we’d have to pay the full price.

    So we made an appointment at the local health centre, where we were told through an interpreter, that our EHIC card doesn’t cover prescriptions, and anyway is only valid for one month.

    He then had a personal rant about “why should Spain subsidise the million-and-a-half British pensioners over here”. I told him that as far as I knew, the UK government ultimately end up paying for our health care.

    But is our local health centre mistaken, and how do we find out what our entitlement is? I emailed the UK Consulate in Malaga, but it turns out that they no longer answer email queries. I’ve also emailed the UK National Health, but three weeks later, I’m still waiting for a reply.

    We’re feeling a little isolated!

  7. Rod Jones – I was told by my Medical Center that the children could use their EHIC for a period of up to 6 months and during this period we were able to request regular prescriptions for medication. They both have NUSS numbers which I would use for their prescriptions but these were issued following their initial diagnosis and admittance into hospital. Are you registered with your local doctor? You could try this number:

    The Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999

    I have found them helpful in the past when questions need answers.

  8. Thanks Rebecca… I’ll be in the UK for the next couple of days, so I’ll give them a call.

    Ultimately though, I fear that whatever they say will carry little weight with the Spanish authorities.

  9. Rod Jones: Just a thought. Could someone in U.K. fill your prescriptions there and post the medication on to you? I often pick my wifes ‘scrips up in this way by ticking the “I am the patients representative” box. Bit awkward for sure, but from experience, medications cost an arm and leg in Spain.

  10. Hi Stefanjo… yes this is what we’ve had to do.

    I’m still puzzled though, as to why some health centres are allowed to interpret EU policy in their own (in this case, quite xenophobic) ways. They seem unaware that the UK foots ex-pat health care bills.

    I spoke to the NHS when I was back in the UK a couple of weeks ago, and they seem aware that this sort of thing goes on, but prefer to leave it to be resolved through the diplomatic channels.

  11. Speaking for the defence your worships, my wife and I are retired living in Spain full time, we applied for and got our Spanish health cards (usual form filling and several trips)and have so far got all our medical treatment and medicines free of charge. With the governments rule change to prescription charges we do now have to pay a small amount for prescriptions as do all Spanish nationals so we can have no argument with that. I appreciate that for people under retirement age the situation is different but that I’m afraid is something you have to take into account when moving to a foreign coutry EU or not.

  12. As I understand it, pensioners in Spain are only entitled to free non emergency care if they are a resident and registered into the Spanish system, which means leaving the UK system.

    I know I am only covered in the UK with a Spanish EHIC which is strangely enough issued in Britain.

    It’s some time since I commented on this site as I have been ill for over a year but have received excellent health care from 2 different hospitals for the 2 separate complaints I suffer from both as a long term result of the underlying one of diabetes.

    Both have required expensive treatment and this has been carried out quickly, professionally, using the latest equipment and from friendly dedicated staff.

    I will accept that the GP system doesn’t seem as good as I remember it in the UK but that might be more to do with a language and culture differences than anything else.

    However I just put my Tarjeta in and get about 10 medicines renewed on it for 6 months at a time. Although I now have to pay a small amount, as do all pensioners in Spain, it’s capped at 10 Euro a month in total.

    But overall the hospitals in Malaga are far superior to any NHS ones in the UK and that is a view shared by several of my friends who have also had excellent treatment.

    Sometimes when I read the comments on health cover in Spain for Brit expat pensioners I think I must be living in a different Spain to them.

    OK, it needed some work from myself in going to the INSS office with the paperwork obtained from the UK NHS, making sure I had all the other necessary paperwork and then registering at the local Health Centre and they arranged the issue of my tarjeta in about a week.

    I am sure The Olive Press must have run an article on how to do it but if they haven’t recently perhaps it’s time to run it again.

    My Spanish friends tell me there is a saying in Spain which I will post in English. “If you don’t put your mouth to the breast, you wont get any milk.”

  13. Hi Peter and Ferd… thanks for your comments. Indeed, before we arrived here, we’d heard only good things about the Spanish health system, and I have no reason to doubt that the quality of treatment beats the NHS hands-down.

    Our problem is that we’re on an extended holiday (so non-resident), and my wife has a pre-existing condition, so isn’t covered by the EHIC. It seems we fall through the gaps in the system. Anyway, as Stefanjo pointed out, she can get her prescription filled by friends, and posted to us here.

    My bigger beef was about bureaucratic obstructiveness and borderline xenophobia in our local clinic.

  14. @ Rod Jones I see your dilemma it does indeed seem you fall through the cracks and I can understand your beef about the bureaucratic obstructiveness in some parts of Spain but I can assure you that Spaniards suffer from it just as much as any other nationality. One thing I would say is that while you are getting into the system or finding a solution you are able to purchase your medicines over the counter (pricey I know)but I have never been able to do this in Northern Europe and the UK.

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