New campaign to help British expats in Spain understand the health system

by Ray Clancy on March 19, 2013

Some 9.09% of expats in Spain use mobile banking frequently

New campaign to help British expats in Spain understand the health system

The UK’s department of health is working with Spanish health authorities to help British expats in Spain understand the country’s health care system better. The new campaign in conjunction with the Valencian Health Authority aims to educate expats on the correct use of the European Health Insurance Card as there is a lot of misunderstanding and on how to register for health care in spain.

The project has a new website – healthcareinspain.eu – where people can find out more about accessing healthcare in Spain and the correct use of the European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs). EHICs are for short term visits to European Union countries by tourists, not long term residents, but expats are often confused about their use, according to David Pennington, head of the department of health’s international healthcare team.

For expats living in Spain, access to health care is usually through registering with the S1/E121 scheme run by the Spanish social security department. ‘Many British citizens living in Spain are confused about how to access state healthcare and many use their EHIC cards when they should be accessing healthcare in another way. This campaign explains who can use a UK issued EHIC and what it’s for. It also tells people about other ways to access state healthcare in Spain, depending on their circumstances,’ said Pennington.

The website explains that the EHIC is for medically necessary state treatment during the course of a temporary stay in Spain. It isn’t the correct way for expats to access state healthcare and advice is given on how to register with the Spanish social security department. The campaign also involved working with Valencian Health Authority staff so that they understand how the UK reimburses Spain for treatment provided to British citizens in Spain.

Quote from ExpatForum.com : “If you are applying for your residence certificate, you may be asked to show proof that you are covered for healthcare in Spain when making your application. If you are a UK state pensioner for example, you may be able to use your S1 form to meet this requirement.”

Valencia has been chosen for the campaign, which is partly being funded by the European Commission, as it is very popular with British tourists and expats. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office estimates that 300,000 British citizens live permanently in the region, making up around 40% of the total British expat population in Spain. While the campaign will focus on Valencia, it will also extend to other regions of Spain, where many local hospitals don’t fully understand the system.

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