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Title: Health Tourism debate continues as Spain says she is losing 1 billion € a year
Author: Fraser Trevor
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The debate on so-called ‘Health Tourism’ is continuing in Spain, and now the Ministry for Health has said that it is costing Spain one billi...

The debate on so-called ‘Health Tourism’ is continuing in Spain, and now the Ministry for Health has said that it is costing Spain one billion € a year. The Ministry says this could have been avoided if the Socialist Government had correctly transposed a European directive on the mobility of the citizens between the different member states. The Spanish Royal Decree 240/2007 which transposes the European directive 2004/38 misses out article 7, which establishes a clear guarantee to stop the citizens of one country abusing the health system of another country. It establishes that all the citizens in the union have the right to residency in another member state for more than three months if he or she is employed or self-employed in the new country or if ‘he or she or the members of the family, have sufficient resources to not become a cost for social assistance to the new member state during the period of residence, with health insurance which covers the risks of the adopted country’. The Ministry for Health is now saying this missing article results in Spain not being able to invoice for the health services given to hundreds of thousands of citizens. In 2009 some 700,000 foreigners treatments cost 1 billion €, according to data from the Ministry taken from a Tribunal de Cuentas report. These are citizens from other countries of the EU who obtain a Spanish Health Card or who obtain a European card which passes the cost onto Spain. Secretary General for Health, Pilar Farjas, told ABC newspaper ‘the inappropriate, and in some cases fraudulent use is a matter of imbalance’, and the Government is revising where the serious problems of sustainability are arising. She considered the high numbers of foreigners seeking treatment was testimony to the excellent quality of the health system. She said the government would protect and guarantee that services for those who have a right to it. Spokesman for Health in Congress, and ex Valencia Health Councillor, Manuel Cervera, in an interview on Radio 9, said the Government ‘is to study establishing previous requirements’ to limit the access of the foreigners to the health service, and ‘to better control the so-called health tourism’. He explained that the Ministry for Health is studying introducing criteria such as ‘a minimum period of residence or tax contributions’ so being on the padron local census would no long be enough.


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