Spain could scrap free healthcare for Brit expats

Spain is considering scrapping free or subsidised healthcare for British expats once the UK leaves the European Union.

Speaking at a conference in Alicante earlier this week, the country’s Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, said that Spain would try to reach a deal for the UK to pay for the healthcare of the estimated 800,000 Brits who live in the country.

“We must reach an agreement for residents to access health services in Spain, but covered by the United Kingdom,” the Minister said.

Currently, Brits who live and work in Spain, and pay into the social insurance system, have the cost of healthcare covered by Spain. Others, though, such as pensioners, have healthcare costs reimbursed by Britain under EU agreements. Margallo has not yet confirmed whether his plan includes or excludes expat residents who pay into the country’s social security system.

Following the Minister’s speech, the British Embassy in Madrid said: “The negotiations to leave the EU are about to begin and it is too soon to say what the outcome will be on this issue. At every step of these negotiations we will work to ensure the best possible outcome for the British people.”

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has said that she will invoke Article 50, beginning the two-year process that will lead to the UK leaving the EU, in March.

UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, is set to meet with his Spanish counterpart in the coming days to thrash out a post-Brexit deal between the two countries. Reaching an agreement over the cost of healthcare is to be one of the main focuses of this meeting, with Johnson hopeful is hopeful of reaching a ‘Canadian-style’ agreement where 99 per cent of healthcare expenses are waived.

Article published 7th October 2016