Spain has tightened its belt when it comes to providing medical assistance on the national health and not just for foreigners either; Spanish nationals are also affected by measures implemented this year. An increased burden on an already flagging system provoked the changes and it is no longer enough to be “empadronado” or registered as a resident in Spain to be entitled to free medical assistance.
These measures are directly linked to stricter residency laws also approved this year as discussed in a previous article. The new laws approved back in April, cover “urgent measures to guarantee the sustainability of the National Health Care System, to improve its quality as well as its services”. To qualify for health care provided by public funds you must fulfill one of the following scenarios:
- Be registered on the social security system as an active employee or as a self-employed person
- Be registered as a pensioner
- Be the beneficiary of a social security service such as unemployment
- To have used up your unemployment quota and be registered at the unemployment office as a job seeker
If none of the above fit your situation, both Spanish and EU legal residents may access the system provided they can verify they do not exceed the income limit determined by regulations. The National Institute of Social Security (INSS) is the administration in charge of determining each person’s circumstances as well as possible beneficiaries. If you apply as a person of insufficient means, you must provide a written declaration and submit official certificates from the social security and tax offices of your country of origin to show that you are no longer eligible to receive health care there. In turn, the INSS will evaluate your situation and respond accordingly.
An alternative measure is in the pipeline for those who still don’t meet the necessary criteria but this would fall under the jurisdiction of individual autonomous regions not Social Security and is still being drafted so no other information is available at the moment.
For those travelling, especially over the upcoming Christmas period, remember to apply for the European Health Card, an individual document that certifies the holders right to medical assistance during a temporary stay in a member state. Statistics show that people are more likely to suffer an accident around the holidays (all the merriment must make us a bit more careless). Last year in the UK, reports show broken arms from pulling Xmas crackers, electrocution from watering Xmas trees with the lights plugged in and confusing decorations with chocolate so take extra care especially if travelling on the road or when you’re digging into your roast turkey dinner!
Happy Holidays and a SAFE New Year!