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EU investigates Spain's EHIC discrimination

Sat 19th Feb 2011

The Commission has decided to take Spain to the European Court of Justice for refusing EU pensioners access to free medication while temporarily residing in Spain.

Further to receiving Spain's reply to the Commission's reasoned opinion, the Commission takes the view that Spanish rules are not in line with EU law as they discriminate against pensioners from other EU Member States.

Under EU social security legislation (Regulation 883/2004), pensioners temporarily residing in another Member State can make use of their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to receive necessary healthcare under the same conditions as pensioners insured under the sickness insurance scheme of the visiting Member State.

The Spanish authorities however, refuse free medication to EU pensioners because the European Health Insurance Card does not indicate that they are pensioners. Spain requires EU pensioners to present a supplementary document issued by their national social security services certifying in the Spanish language that he or she is in receipt of a state pension.

In the Commission's view, the refusal of the Spanish authorities is contrary to the above mentioned provisions and discriminates EU pensioners temporarily residing in Spain. Moreover, the requirement to present such a supplementary document is contrary to the purpose of the European Health Insurance Card, which aims at simplifying procedures and reducing red tape for insured persons when they need health care during a temporary stay in another Member State.

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