The subject was mentioned in a posting which canot find. In Daily Telegraph Expat edition of yesterday there is an article about clamping down on expats' medical treatment in Spain. The restrictions refer to those not yet eligible to receive their E121 health entitlement form which is for retirees resident in an EU country.
British expatriates in Spain foot the bill for medical treatment By David Thomas
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 25/06/2008
The provincial government in the Costa Blanca is changing the law because it claims elderly people who have made their home in the region are placing too high a burden on the health system.
The move has prompted fury in the expatriate community on the Mediterranean coast. It feels it is being victimised by the Spanish, following years of clashes with authorities over the country's planning laws.
Many people moved to Spain on retirement believing they would be covered by the country's medical system. Now they are being forced to take out expensive private insurance.
The decision by politicians in Valencia has caused uproar in the area and the British consulate in Alicante has been deluged with calls from concerned expatriates.
Bob Houliston, 71, a retired diplomat who is now president of the Claro political party, which represents the 20,000 expat residents of the Orihuela area near Alicante, said the move could have "serious consequences".
"The timing of this decision could not have been worse. Now is not the time to cause individual hardship and widespread uncertainty which can only add to the image problems the region has to contend with," he said.
"It should surely be possible for the United Kingdom and Valencia government authorities to find solutions for the relatively small number of British citizens living in Valencia who could otherwise face real hardship."
In 2002 the provincial government offered free healthcare to all expatriates of all EU nationalities in a bid to get foreign investment in the area's property market, which at that time was booming. The market is now experiencing a similar downturn to that being seen in the UK.
The ruling only applies to people who took early retirement and moved to Spain, mainly aged in their fifties. Older retirees and individuals on long-term incapacity benefit are unaffected, as they are covered under a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK.
A spokesman for the regional health ministry said: "It is costing us an extra €1bn (£790m) annually to look after a million new residents as well as long-stay tourists, and our services are at saturation point. Some come to Spain to have their heart operation or hip replacement here at a better standard and more quickly than in their own country."
The expatriates however, hope to fight the ruling. In France last year, expatriates successfully had a similar plan partially overturned, so it now only applies to new arrivals.
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