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Spain to charge illegal immigrants for healthcare

Source: El Pais - Wed 8th Aug 2012
Spain to charge illegal immigrants for healthcare

The government's plan to completely exclude illegal immigrants from the public healthcare system has been adapted to include a minor concession: undocumented foreigners will be able to access medical services under specific circumstances, or for a price.

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The proposal being drawn up by Mariano Rajoy's administration, to which EL PAÍS has had access, is similar in effect to an insurance policy for private healthcare. For the undee 65s, the cost will be €710.40 euros a year, or €59.20 a month. For those over 65, the fee will rise to €1,864.80, or €155.40 a month. In both instances the payment will allow access only to basic state healthcare services. Costs for medicine and health transport services will be excluded and should a monthly payment be missed, the policy-holder will have their medical access suspended for three months.

As in a previous decree signed in April, minors and pregnant women are excluded from the policy system and entitled to free healthcare. Even so, for prescription medicines these groups will have to pay 40% of the cost.

Other people exempt from the new regulation are those that have suffered any type of ill-treatment and asylum-seekers. Many regions, including Andalusia, the Basque Country and Asturias, plan to oppose the Health Ministry's order to bar the doors of surgeries to non-resident immigrants as of September. It will fall to the regions to carry out the implementation of the plan, including checking documents and managing the policy system.

The Spanish society of primary care physicians, SEMFyC, has already called on doctors to ignore the government decree.

The ethics of compasionate care aside, Tumbit can not help but think about the issue that is being glossed over here : Should "Illegal" immigrants not be removed from the country (unless they can prove asylum etc...) ? Is the issue of charging this group for access to healthcare an admission that the immigration system is ineffective ? Surely the nature of their seeking treatment means that the authorities then know the whereabouts of these people ? Surely the act of seeking them out to tax them (but not to seek eviction from the country) is just yet another means of squeezing even more revenue out of a desperate population ?