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Recortes de Prensa

Spanish Attack on British Expatriate Patients Brings Home Message – Get Health Insurance!

Shelter Offshore, 21 | 01 | 2010 - Reportaje

Are you eligible for free medical care in Spain? Are you sure? Many expatriates living in Spain who are ineligible for free treatment are draining the system it is alleged – so we’ll show you whether you should buy private medical insurance to live in Spain or not

Spanish politicians and doctors have launched an attack against British expatriates who seek treatment for medical conditions when in Spain, and they have accused such Brits of being a drain on limited resources

One needs to scrape below the surface quite a way to discover why this attack has been levelled at Britons’ doors in particular, and what the expats are actually allegedly guilty of: but one thing the attack certainly does is ‘focus the mind!’ I.e., the Spanish attack on British expatriate patients brings the message home loud and clear – ‘Get Health Insurance!’ – or risk being left high and dry.

In a bid to clarify the position for British expats who’re thinking of moving to live, work or retire to Spain, this report will outline who is eligible for free health care in Spain, what your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) will cover you for and when and why you really do need to get private medical insurance in place depending on your status.

Which British Expatriates Qualify for Free Medical Care in Spain?

If you’re a British expat and you’re at or above the age of retirement when you move to Spain then you are usually eligible for free medical treatment thanks to a reciprocal agreement in place between the UK and Spain. Additionally, if you move to Spain permanently and are in receipt of invalidity benefit in the UK before you go, you are likely to be eligible for free health care in Spain. You need to apply for forms E121 or E106, depending on your particular circumstances. Use the DirectGov website to get assistance with applying for these forms.

Note: If you intend to split your time between the UK and Spain you may want to keep your access to what’s called ‘universal health care’ in the UK – in which case, you may find that actually, you too will need at least a basic level of health insurance to cover yourself and your time in Spain.

Others who qualify for free medical care in Spain are those who are of working age and who are in employment and paying taxes! Whether you are employed or self-employed you will have a social security number and be part of the Spanish system for tax and benefits accordingly…

So, Which British Expatriates DON’T Qualify for Free Medical Care in Spain?

If you move to Spain to live and you’re below the age of retirement, (60 for women and 65 for men), yet you do not intend working and therefore pay no tax in Spain, you are not eligible for free medical treatment in Spain. If you’re in Spain temporarily on and off throughout the year and you’re relying on your EHIC, this will only give you very restricted and limited access to treatment for genuine emergency health issues. This is where the argument has started between politicians, medical professionals and the expats who are allegedly ‘draining the system.’

Others who have been accused of being a drain in much the same way are the expats who move to live in Spain and who work illegally on the black or grey jobs market. I.e., those who take a temporary job and don’t register or who are paid ‘cash in hand’ so that they avoid tax, avoid their tax obligation and yet go and blag free health treatment whenever they need it with their EHIC in their hot little hands!

For such people we have no sympathy that the Spanish authorities are cracking down on your antics. You are behaving illegally and ‘benefiting’ from doing so…and it’s not fair to burden an already over-burdened medical budget. It happens in the UK too – and in all nations where there is a free medical service…and it is wholly unfair.

If You Don’t Qualify for Free Medical Care in Spain What Should You Do?

A new tax has been introduced for those who want to live in Spain but who are below the retirement age and who are not working – this ‘tax’ amounts to about €80 every month and it will cover you for any medical care you need. So, you can choose to pay this tax and have your health covered in Spain – or you can look into whether it makes more sense for you to have private medical insurance that will cover you in Spain and beyond if you decide to travel, move, relocate or repatriate.

Any expat financial adviser will help you find a policy that suits you – to that end, if you would like us to put you in touch with an adviser, just get in touch. Alternatively, you can do the research yourself – you can compare and contrast international policies with national ones that just cover Spain for example, and you can make sure you’re not paying for any extras you don’t need and that your excess is set at a level you are comfortable affording in the event that you do need to make a claim.

In Conclusion

If you’re eligible for free medical care in Spain, use it if you need it. If you’re not eligible, remember that for every time you cheat the system you are potentially depriving an eligible and genuinely needy person of the care that they require. This could be a newborn baby, an elderly person or someone going about their life who is suddenly struck down by a deadly disease. Morally, if you’re draining the resources in Spain – or any other nation – when you are not allowed to or when you can afford not to, you are going against what’s right.

Lecture over – if you want to live in Spain and enjoy the stunning climate, the beautiful landscape and the fabulous way of life, just make sure you take care of your health and get any and all appropriate cover in place. If that means getting your E106 form before you leave the UK, get it and take it with you. If that means you buying a private health insurance policy, get the direct debit set up!

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