Free health care withdrawn from British expats living in Valencia

Valencia takes away free healthcare from 1600 Britons

The Valencian regional government has decided to take away free healthcare for Britons who have voluntarily taken early retirement and now reside in the Valencian, most of them on or near the Costa Blanca.

Until now Britons residing in the Valencian region were entitled to a healthcare card which meant they could get free healthcare on the basis of simply being registered as residents in their local town hall despite not having paid any contributions to the national health system (seguridad social, literally translated as social security). This was due to a loop hole in Spanish law which was meant to protect certain categories such as the widows of military personnel. However, this also meant that British expats could get free healthcare and treatment for all sorts of common conditions such as angina and cataracts.

The problem of free healthcare is particular to those Britons who reside in Spain and have taken voluntary early retirement.

Pensioners and those who have been forced to take early retirement are covered by European funds. It doesn’t affect tourists either who are entitled to an E-111 which gives them the right to free healthcare in Spain for up to a year.

The new measures which come into effect immediately respect the expiry date on health cards which have already been issued. The best solution for those affected by these changes to the healthcare system in Valencia is for them to take out private health insurance to cover their future healthcare needs until they reach retirement age when they will be entitled to free healthcare once again. Emergency healthcare services will still be provided free of charge.

The British Embassy in Spain commented on the situation saying that Valencia had simply done the same as other regions in Spain and that it had been warning British residents in Spain that the present system of free care without any questions asked would not last forever.

In fact the British government had gone as far as publishing advertisements in the British press to warn Britons living in Spain of the impending changes.

Related: Healthcare in Spain