How much would you have to pay if you suffered ill health?

Medical bills can be a major financial burden; don’t assume ill health won’t happen to you
Are you legally entitled to treatment under the Spanish State healthcare system? Do you have private health insurance? If you answered no to either of these questions then you may need to think about how you or your family would access medical treatment if the unforeseen happened and you are taken ill whilst living in Spain.
Remember that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is designed for tourists – you may have got away with it in the past, but next time you may not be so lucky. Whilst there is immense pressure on the UK’s NHS to ensure that patients are entitled to medical treatment’ free of charge’, these checks are becoming more frequent in Spain. A recent case involved a patient using an EHIC card to access free healthcare only for the hospital to find out from computer records that the patient also had a NIE number in Spain, meaning that that the EHIC was invalidated.
In addition to the EHIC, if you have resided outside the UK for more than 3 months then you may not be entitled to free NHS treatment if you return. Not many Brits are aware of this and will return to the UK to obtain repeat prescriptions or have annual check ups for pre-existing medical conditions to then find that their entitlement has ceased because of their residency status.
Too many Britons move to Spain from the UK and other European destinations without making adequate provision for their medical care when they arrive.  The worse case scenarios are that people have to sell their properties, take out loans and sometimes return to the UK simply to cover the cost of their treatment.
The Spanish State healthcare system is only accessible to those who qualify for it and therefore if you are under retirement age and not working, so not contributing through local taxes, then you will need to purchase private medical insurance for your health. Once you do reach retirement age, you will require an E121 form from the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions and only then will you qualify for state healthcare in Spain. But like the UK, the Spanish also face problems including waiting lists for certain elective medical procedures. Nursing care whilst in hospital is restricted to nursing only with hospitals relying on relatives or friends to assist the patient with washing, dressing and feeding.
When discharged from hospital there is also limited aftercare available through local/district nursing, with this facility being sourced on a private basis.
The cost of private medical insurance need not be high. As a provider of private health insurance since 1927, Exeter Friendly Society has over 80 years of experience in the industry. With a range of plans for people in Spain, the UK and worldwide, Exeter Friendly Society offers policies to suit most circumstances and you can join up to the age of 79, with no upper age limit for renewal.
All of the policies include unlimited access to a 24 hour UK GP helpline where you can contact an English speaking doctor 365 days a year. Offering freedom of choice, you can be treated where you want within Spain, and as a friendly society there are no shareholders to satisfy so we can concentrate our efforts on improving the service for the benefit of members.
Exeter Friendly Society also have an individual and personalised view on medical underwriting and will assess each application and any pre-existing medical conditions on it’s own individual merit. Exeter operates a full medical declaration process, without the need for the applicant to undergo a medical examination before applying.
Your health is something you are unable to guarantee, and it could be costly if you decide that ill health will not affect you at some time in your life. Treatment costs can be very expensive if you find yourself not covered by the Spanish State health system, with a typical hip replacement costing €12,000 and major heart surgery up to €25,000.
For more information about Exeter Friendly Society’s private health insurance plans, please contact Bill Biss at Beneficial Insurance Services Spain on 96 579 1222, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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