UK Pensioners In Spain Struggle With A ‘Failing System’ Amid Soaring Health Costs.
British pensioners living in Spain have been left struggling to pay soaring healthcare costs amid a rush to register on the system under new residency rules. British expats who left it late to register as Spanish residents now face a difficult bureaucratic maze in order to obtain access to state-funded healthcare.
Sue Wilson, chair of the campaign organisation Bremain in Spain has warned that UK pensioners have been hit with hefty medical fees as they await sign-off on their paperwork, known as an S1 form, which would grant them access to the Spanish national health system.
Ms. Wilson said: “Some people are paying for medical care that perhaps they wouldn’t need to had they got their residencia sorted out sooner. It is not just the cost of the healthcare it’s the drugs as well so you know if you take a lot of medicines then that can get pricey. It can be annoying to some degree when we have been telling people for soo long the importance of getting all their paperwork sorted- especially with Brexit.”
‘The system is failing to keep up with the demand’
Ms. Wilson added: “That now through no fault of their own, they are trying but the system is failing to keep up with the demand. It should not affect the vaccine rollout because even if you’re registered for private healthcare you can still register on a temporary basis with your local medical centre, so it shouldn’t affect the vaccine.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “The rights of UK nationals to continue living, working and studying in their EU Member State are protected by law. Anyone legally resident before 1 January 2021 can stay but should register their residence.
“The UK Government has been running a public information campaign across Europe to inform UK nationals about the actions they may need to take to secure their rights and access to services. This includes outreach events, adverts on social media and in newspapers, and support through our network of Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates.”
Following the news that the UK has some of the highest levels of pensioner poverty, expats in Spain have been debating whether a state pension is enough to live on. The UK government produced a briefing paper showing how prevalent “pensioner poverty” is across the EU and Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) countries.
British pensioners in Spain will receive an extra £1million funding to help them cope with the change in the laws since Brexit. The extra funding was announced on Thursday, April 8, by UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
The UK’s ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, has said he is “delighted” by the news, which he predicted would come as a huge boost for the hundreds of thousands of Britons who live in the country.
For any UK citizens arriving now, here are some of the differences.
For tourists, including people who have second homes in the country but haven’t taken residency, you can no longer come and go as you please. You can spend up to three months out of every six here.