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Facultad de Derecho
Campus de Teatinos
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Recortes de Prensa

Expat health tourism in Spain threatened by doctors, 20 | 01 | 2010 - Noticia

Doctors in Spain have spoken out in support of recent allegations by the country’s politicians that ‘health tourists’ are merely freeloading on the back of the Spanish health insurance.

Citing the large UK expat community in Alicante as an example, the SiMap union claimed expats account for up to 20 percent of all hospital admissions. SiMap, which is the representative body for Spanish public health doctors, has aimed its criticism at those travellers in possession of the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) which in theory is for providing emergency care and treatment for troubled holidaymakers. SiMap has not directed any criticism at those expats who pay taxes and have rightful residency.

It is believed that of the many thousands of British expats and holidaymakers that regularly alternate between UK and Spanish residences there exists a percentage who carefully coordinate travel depending on their medical needs and where they can best jump waiting lists.

The new concerns are rare amongst health professionals who have for years kept quiet of the issue which politicians have labelled as freeloading. The main reason has been how ‘emergency treatment’ can be defined which ultimately has meant that doctors most often do not question the patients’ claims of any alleged illness.

However, with the health budget dwindling ever smaller in Spain SiMap and the NHS are both looking at purse-tightening options, with resources for non-essential treatments sure to be restricted under any cost savings schemes.

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