The Association of British Insurers is warning UK holidaymakers heading for Spain to check what medical treatment they are entitled to. Over ten million British holidaymakers visit Spain every year, with an estimated 30 Britains a week needing medical treatment in Spanish hospitals.
All UK travellers to countries in the European Economic Area are entitled to medical treatment provided by the state of that country for free or a reduced cost proving that they have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This is free and available from the NHS website or applying through the Post Office.
However, travel insurers are aware of more than100 cases where UK holidaymakers have been refused state medical treatment in Spain, despite producing their EHIC. In most cases they have been referred instead for expensive private medical treatment.
Residents in Spain are not entitled to use the EHIC.
Often travellers are asked for details of their travel insurance, before they are treated, even though they are entitled to free State medical treatment. This has led to some insurers being billed for treatment that should have been met by the Spanish authorities. In one case a holidaymaker was hospitalised for a month costing €37,000 covered by the EHIC. However, their travel insurer was subsequently invoiced for €63,000 by a debt collection agency working for the Spanish hospital.