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Recortes de Prensa

Expats in Spain Say ‘You Can’t Go Wrong’ With Local Medical Care & Health Tax

Shelter Offshore, 25 | 01 | 2010 - Noticia

A recent review of expatriate opinion in Spain shows that the introduction of a ‘medical care tax’ for those ineligible for free healthcare has been successful, and that healthcare standards in Spain are good…do you agree?

A recent report in the Telegraph has highlighted the view of some of the British expatriates who are now living in Spain and paying the so-called ‘care tax’ each month; this is the tax payment that enables them to have access to the local healthcare system if they are ineligible for free care on a reciprocal agreement basis with the UK.

We ran an article that looked at whether expats in Spain are better off paying this tax or buying an international insurance policy purely on a cost basis, but the Telegraph feature looked specifically at whether those paying the local tax actually felt they were getting good service and treatment levels for their monthly contribution.

As the article finds, not only is the Spanish bureaucracy associated with taxation and accessing the healthcare system in general not as onerous and inaccessible as first thought, but the actual medical care available in Spain is of a high standard, with any tax payment towards accessing care also deemed affordable.

The expatriates interviewed for the piece were all ineligible for free healthcare in Spain which is only available to those from the UK who are above retirement age or who are in receipt of the likes of a disability benefit. Therefore, the expats interviewed were either working and paying taxation and the equivalent of National Insurance Contributions in Spain, or they were paying the relatively new so-called ‘care tax’ which is a one off monthly payment for those not working and not yet retired – it allows them access to medical care.

According to the interviewees: “if you pay your tax, you can’t go wrong.” With the paperwork associated with getting your tarjeta sanitaria (medical card) straightforward, and the technology in place at most clinics and hospitals superior to that in the UK. One expat commented that when you attend an appointment your doctor or practice nurse puts your card into a card reader that identifies you and brings up all your medical history, making your notes instantly portable and your entire history totally accessible. This allows a doctor to look holistically at you and any condition you present with.

The efficiency, value and simplicity of the system – from registering to paying your taxes, from getting your medical card to accessing treatment – was all favourably commented on by the handful of expatriates the Telegraph interviewed. If you’ve got a story that you’d like to share that relates to your own personal experiences of the healthcare system and the medical ‘tax’ in Spain, feel free to get in touch with us and access other Shelter Offshore readers with your own story. We always respect your privacy…

Finally, whether you’re moving to Spain to live and work, you’re nearing retirement age and thinking about relocating to a villa in the Spanish sunshine or you want to perhaps bring your children up in the laid back lifestyle that Spain is famous for – do your own personal research into whether you will be eligible for free health care in Spain. Perhaps you will qualify because you’ll be paying your taxes if you’re going to Spain to work, or maybe you will get free care because of a reciprocal agreement in place between the UK and Spain that you’re perhaps eligible to benefit from. If however you discover that you will not be insured and covered when you relocate, you absolutely owe it to yourself and your ongoing health to make sure you have a private national or international health insurance policy in place.

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