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EHIC problems in Spain

Spanish healthcare

With the economic problems in Spain and the attempts to tackle the deficit, there have seen a lot of attempts to cut costs both in the public and private sectors in the country. While some public services are cut, private companies are also doing whatever they can to increase costs and they have been some innovative ways to draw money in. Sometimes these ways are genuine because of economic issues, whilst other times the recession and economy are used as an excuse to simply grab more money from tourists.

EHIC Problems in Spain

One situation that you should be aware of and which has been quite heavily reported in the Spanish and British media in recent months, is the experience of many British and other European tourist in Spain, who have found that their EHIC card and benefits seem to be getting ignored. The EHIC provides slightly different benefits in each country and the UK NHS site lists in detail what service the EHIC provides in each country (EHIC by country) .

For Spain you should be able to get the following, provided you have an up-to-date EHIC:

  • When visiting a doctor in Spain – for a public doctor the visit should be free. You can visit a private doctor but for this you should expect to pay.
  •  For any dental work in Spain, this is normally not covered on the EHIC and you will very likely have to pay for this.
  • The need for hospital treatment – this is only generally for free if you go to a PUBLIC hospital. You should make sure you present your EHIC at the very beginning and be CAREFUL BECAUSE this is where issues have occurred for many tourists seeking hospital care in Spain. In some tourist areas, it is reported that local taxi drivers have been colluding with local private hospitals and that they drive tourists to what are private rather than public hospitals. This has resulted in many people needing to pay for the medical attention at the hospital and meant that the tourists have had to try and claim money back on their return form their travel insurance company. Unless an emergency, it is also better to get a referral from a local doctor and as mentioned above, go to a public hospital – unless you are happy to pay for the treatment. If money if no object, then certainly, why not just use a private hospital and get what could be the very best treatment.

You can find more specific advice on safety in Spain from the UK government website.

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