Spain is Britain's favourite location when it comes to buying a holiday home in Europe and the Spanish Ministry of Tourism expects a further one million foreigners to establish homes on beautiful coastlines during the next six years.
For those seeking sun, sea and sand, Spain has a great deal to offer but not speaking the language can prove a difficult barrier for some British expatriates when it comes to medical insurance and services, says a bank.
The Spanish Society of General Medicine has expressed concerns that communication problems can cause serious misunderstandings when doctors are trying to treat foreign patients. It also increases consultation times, leaving the Spanish healthcare system under considerable strain.
The bank's solution is to offer a bank account. Confused? Their logic is that British expatriates in Spain need an English speaking hotline, which includes a 24/7 medical help line. One phone call connects you to an English-speaking Medical Consultant who can advise on any situation from unusual symptoms to a full-blown emergency. Consultants can also guide you to the nearest clinic or surgery and, if needed, will send the most appropriate person to help and tell you what to do till the emergency services arrive.
The bank makes a valid point when it says that anxiety can be heightened considerably when undergoing treatment in a foreign country. For those settling in Spain, unless you speak fluent Spanish and understand the local dialect, explaining your symptoms to ensure you receive the correct treatment only adds to the worry.
The bank solution has two major drawbacks. It does nothing to help you pay for the medical care, and the help line specialists cannot talk to the hospital or doctor on your behalf.
Both these drawbacks can be overcome by using a 24/7 help line attached to an international medical insurance plan covering Spain.
There are UK insurers who have offices in Spain, who offer specialist products for expatriates in Spain. There are also local Spanish insurers with English speaking help lines.
Photograph courtesy of Spain.info, the official website for tourism in Spain.