Spanish doctors fight health tourism

A union representing doctors in Spain has hit out at the number of non-registered expats who are allegedly taking advantage of the under-pressure healthcare system.

European Health Insurance Card

The claims are being made in the region of Alicante, where there is a large community of British expats. The SiMap union, which is in place to represent public doctors, say that these unregistered non-Spanish nationals are putting a tremendous burden on the already struggling healthcare system. It is important to note that this attack is not aimed at expats who have registered their residency but rather those who haven’t and seek to utilise the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which is usually used by holiday makers in the advent of an emergency.

The EHIC has been an issue with politicians for some time now, with the worry that doctors who are faced with deciding what constitutes as an emergency regularly side with the prospective patient regardless of the severity of the problem.

But with Spain’s healthcare facing just as much pressure as our beloved NHS, cutbacks are inevitable. In Valencia moves were recently made which have now prohibited non-registered expats from gaining free healthcare, unless they are above the age of retirement. Similar enforcements have been brought into effect in other parts of Spain and also in France; however it is thought that there are still a large number of unregistered expats seeking to exploit the system.

Readers unsure of their rights should read more on International Healthcare for Expats.