EU Spain health card probe

The European Commission has requested information from Spain about complaints Spanish hospitals are refusing to recognise the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

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Spain refutes scale of health card problems for Britons

Spain's director of general services and pharmacy has said that hospitals in the country always ask people whether they want public or private care.

Agustín Rivero was responding to complaints that a number of UK holidaymakers were refused care in Spain, despite showing an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

They have sent us four very specific cases. Four cases. We're talking about 500,000 [foreign citizens receiving health care].

Even if it were only one case, logically it would have to receive the same treatment as a Spaniard, and we have talked to health services and hospitals about those four cases.

What the insurance companies have told the UK government does not coincide with what our hospitals report. In those four cases, the patients themselves signed their consent requesting private care.

– Agustín Rivero, Spain's Director General of Services and Pharmacy

Mr Rivero said 50 million people visit Spain every year, adding: "I'd like to know if other European countries have the same percentage of this problem as we do."

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EU probes Spain over hospitals' rejection of health card

The European Commission has requested information from Spain about complaints Spanish hospitals are refusing to recognise the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

The European Commission is investigating reports Spanish hospitals are refusing the EHIC. Credit: NHS

The Commission says it is concerned Spain might be failing to fulfil its obligations under EU law to provide emergency healthcare to temporary visitors from other member states on the same terms and conditions as are available to Spanish nationals.

The request for information follows an increasing number of complaints that hospitals, in mainly tourist areas of Spain, are refusing to treat citizens on the basis of their European Health Insurance Card and instead request a travel insurance policy and credit card details.