1,600 Britons see end to free healthcare in Spain
New regulations seal Valencia loophole and put an end to free access to Spanish healthcare for the British residents.25 June 2008
VALENCIA - Around 1,600 British residents in Valencia who have taken early retirement will no longer be able to exploit a loophole that allowed them to enjoy free access to Spanish healthcare.
The change has been brought about by the coming into force of new regulations for the region that aim to control spending on health.
Until now, patients were able to access health services thanks to a special category designed for military widows and wives of professionals, who would not have made social security contributions.
Of the 3,000 people that fall into this category in the Valencia region, some 1,600 are British early retirees.
Pensioners are not affected by the change, given that the cost of their healthcare is later passed on to the British government. Nor are tourists affected, given that they are covered by their E-111 health insurance cards for up to a year.
"I agree that if we don't pay [social security] here, then we shouldn't have the right to medical attention," Stewart Muir, one of the affected British expatriates, said Tuesday.
"But I do feel that the British system should do something about it and help us out," he added.
[El Pais / Jaime Prats / Expatica]