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Health matters discussed
Friday, April 26, 2013 @ 11:59 AM

 STRICT RULES over accessing Spanish healthcare for British residents and visitors are being clearly explained in key question and answer sessions.

The new European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) Outreach Campaign is a unique partnership between the Department of Health team based at the British Consulate in Alicante and Spanish Colleagues at the Valencia Health authority.

And the campaign is aimed at outlining the correct use of EHIC for visitors – while encouraging those who live mainly in Spain to register for healthcare in other ways to insure they are fully protected.
The campaign, which is partly funded with EU cash, rolled into Javea on Tuesday where a third of the population is British – with 9,000 Brits registered with the town hall and an estimate 10,000 more resident in the town but yet to sign the Padron.

Martyn Standing, of the Department of Health team, said the phenomenon of “people who live here but don’t live here” was repeated across Spain.
And he said of EHIC. “We have ‘swallows’, people who spend part of the year here quite legitimately and people who live here – if you live here and use this card, it is not the correct way to access health care.”

He said it was rumoured that the UK did not pay Spain for British citizens receiving healthcare but in 2011/12 the British Government had paid Spain 237 million euros for its commitments to fund the EHIC scheme and those entitled to care funded by the UK.

“It paid 4,267€ for every pensioner who is registered for healthcare, regardless of how much the healthcare costs – you may not have seen a doctor or received hundreds of thousands of euros worth of treatment.”
He told the meeting an EHIC was for people on a temporary stay in Spain and entitled people to all the medical treatment necessary during that time.

Martyn explained what was “medically necessary” was decided by a doctor and would be given on the same basis as a person paying contributions in Spain
He added: “It can include routine treatment or the monitoring of an ongoing condition and can also include oxygen and dialysis but we recommend you plan this is advance.”
He said pensioners living in Spain were issued a UK EHIC for healthcare when they were outside Spain.

The UK Government pays for the healthcare of pensioners and people on long-term sickness benefit living in Spain and also paid for early retirees for a short period, usually 30 months depending on National Insurance contributions.

Martyn said last year Spanish healthcare was reformed and its management taken from individual anonymous governments to the central INSS, the National Institute of Social Security.
He said people entitled to Spanish healthcare were those working and paying contributions; those in receipt of Spanish benefits or a pension; people who previously worked in Spain; those who qualify for healthcare funded by the UK; and the dependants of these groups.

“If you are not covered but you held a residency certificate issued before 24th April 2012, you can qualify for healthcare as a resident and do not need to have paid anything into the social security system,” added Martyn. “It is on condition you are not covered by any other means.”

And the audience was told that any problems using an EHIC card within Europe should be reported to Brussels to the European Commission. “They take EHIC refusal very seriously; they don’t like it at all. If you have been refused treatment you should write to Brussels.”

Expats resident in Spain can visit website to find out how to register correctly.

Source: RTN

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