The Health Minister has confirmed that divorced or separated women who have not made Social Security contributions will still get access to medical services via their eligibility for a medical card which grants the holder access to health services throughout Spain.
The question arose as a result of the adjustments that were being made by the government to health services, adjustments made necessary as a result of the financial crisis engulfing the Spanish economy. The Minister responding to a question in Parliament stated that ‘All men and women, regardless of their marital status, have a right to receive assistance from the public health service.’
New Medical Card in Own Name
The Minister went on to underline that there was absolutely no possibility – for whatever reason – that any cuts made to the health service would impact on separated or divorced women. The Minister furthermore highlighted the fact that such women will no longer be connected to the health service via their prior family status, but rather will in future be entitled to a medical card in their own name with no need to depend on any other person.
The measures adopted by the government would, according to the Minister, guarantee all men and women, regardless of their employment history or marital status, the right to receive health services.
Access to Spanish health services
The government hopes that the new legislation (Real Decreto Ley 16/2012) will cut more than €500m from the health budget (€65bn per year currently) as a result of the legislative changes. Under the new legislation the concept of ‘asegurado’ returns and the entitlement of any individual to receive treatment is defined with regard being had to their contributions to the Social Security system.
All Spanish nationals as well as foreign nationals who are legally resident in Spain before April 24th 2012 are entitled to assistance from the public health service in Spain as long as they are employed, a pensioner or are registered as unemployed and not earning over €100,000 per annum.
For those visiting Spain on holiday a valid EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) should guarantee free emergency treatment, though problems may arise as to what constitutes emergency treatment since chronic conditions may be borderline. Also, practical problems have arisen with some hospitals not accepting the EHIC card, a matter now being investigated by the European Commission.
European citizens planning to obtain ‘residencia’ or legal residence in Spain after the cut-off date of April 24th 2012 now have to demonstrate that they have sufficient means to be able to support themselves in Spain so as not to become a burden on the Spanish state. This may well involve taking-out private health insurance.