Spanish demand for expats to pay for heathcare sparks retaliation

Published:  5 Oct at 6 PM
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Yesterday’s announcement by a Spanish minister that the UK should be forced to pay for expats’ post-Brexit heathcare is about to spark a bitter political wrangle between the two countries.

Madrid’s statement made it clear that Theresa May’s tough Brexit would result in hardship for expats at present residing in Spain. Of the 800,000 Brits living in Mediterranean costal resorts, well over half are elderly and chose Spain in order to make the most of their British state pensions. Should the UK government refuse, self-funding of heathcare would be extremely difficult for many, and impossible for some
Observers are expecting a harsh response from Westminster, possibly involving charging Spaniards living in the UK for access to the National Health Service. The requirement would not apply to expats working in Spain as they are entitled to free or subsidised heathcare through their payment of Spanish taxes.

As is normal in the UK’s diplomatic services, the response to Madrid’s statement by the British Embassy said little to either clarify or comment on the statement, noting only that it’s too soon to speculate about the issue. The Embassy spokesperson added the service would do what it could to ensure a satisfactory outcome for Britishers living in Spain.

The Spanish foreign minister who made the initial comment also stated he believed political turmoil would erupt within the EU over the next several years, as Brussels attempts to bring in its United States of Europe integration policy. The same official was responsible for the immediately post-Brexit comment that Gibraltar’s present status would be useful as a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations.

In addition to the above depressing news, Brits who regularly visit their retired parents or grandparents in Spain are likely to have to apply for a visa post-Brexit. New reports on this issue are suggesting the cost may be as high as £50, making a family visit unaffordable for many. According to experts, UK citizens will become third-country citizens as regards rights of entry to EU countries, and will be charged the same as other non-EU tourists.
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