Following discussions between the British Embassy in Madrid and the Valencia Health Authorities, some important aspects of the new law ‘Ley de Aseguramiento Sanitario’, which deals with changes in provision of healthcare in Valencia, have been clarified.
This affects some UK nationals living in Valencia, including early retirees who are not paying Spanish National Insurance contributions.
The main points are that:
The system is set to change. In the future, anyone will be able to access state-run healthcare by paying a monthly quota. The Valencia Health Authorities aim to implement this new system by the start of 2009. The final monthly amount has not been decided, but will be reasonable and affordable. There will be no discrimination against customers with pre-existing conditions.
Anyone holding a valid SIP card that had been obtained via an ‘extension a demanda’ or, as it is more commonly known, ‘The Newcastle Letter’ on the 6th June 2008 will continue to have cover until 15th January 2009. If the scheme is implemented before 15th January 2009, the Health Agency reserves the right to terminate people’s free cover. They will write out to customers at least 3 months before doing this. Anyone who renewed their SIP card before 6 June 2008 will have the full 12 months cover until the card expires.
People without sufficient economic means may be considered for free healthcare. However, the application process is going to be rigorous and it is unlikely that more than a small minority of UK expats would qualify.
Until the new system comes into effect, all British nationals whose cards ran out prior to 6th June and did not renew them, and those planning to move to the region of Valencia and do not qualify for free healthcare, should consider private health insurance until the new legislation comes into force.
Remember the Spanish ‘manana’ effect – January 2009 is very unlikely to be the real start date.
When the new system comes into force, new applicants will be allowed onto the public health system.
Few health insurers will cover new customers for ‘Pre-existing Conditions’ and undergoing long term treatment, and may deem any new illness to be related to any previous condition, and may not cover any new illness that do not occur within the first six months of any policy.
Offering free healthcare was an inducement on the part of the Valencian Government, to attract UK nationals to buy local property. Expats continue to spend millions of Euros on buying properties and living there, contributing enormously to all parts of the economy, and getting a poor deal from the local Spanish Government.