European health care agreement reached

Fecha Publicación: 
21 Enero 2011

Costa del Sol News | Noticia

New rules to regulate foreigner's use of health services

European health ministers last week reached an agreement over cross-border healthcare after more than two years of wrangling.

The Spanish government, which proposed additional changes to current regulations, stated that their plan "guarantees there will be no discrimination in Europe between native patients and those from other countries."

According to the department for health, their proposal would give patients "the right of movement" and allow them to "solicit care in a member state" that is not their country of residence.

"In this case, the patients will pay for the treatment when they receive it and their country of residence will pay back the costs," the statement reads.

However this will only be done if they have the right to the treatment and they fulfil the requirements set out in the country they are affiliated in.

Under proposed new rules, the tab for 'uncomplicated treatment' for expats visiting the UK will now be picked up by the British government rather than Spain.

Helena Bowden, senior European policy manager at the NHS Europe office in Brussels, told CDSN that the proposed changes had become necessary following cases brought by EU residents over healthcare charges in other member states.

She explained that OAPs who have transferred their healthcare rights to Spain currently have treatment in the UK paid for by the Spanish government.

"Under the new rules simple medical care for visitors would fall on the UK and not on Spain," she explained.

However, major operations carried out in the UK for visitors will still be paid for by Spain, with prior agreement of the resident's health authority in Spain, she added.

The situation becomes more complicated for elderly residents who move to a third country.


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