Palma.—The Balearic government yesterday announced that it is studying a series of measures to tighten up the control of “health tourism.” Government spokesperson, Rafael Bosch, said yesterday that last year, treating non-Spanish residents cost the Ib-Salut Balearic health service 13.4 million euros and, with a black hole of over 350 million euros still to plug, the Balearic authorities wants to try and close this loop hole.

Bosch revealed that the Balearic health service yesterday received 7.1 million euros of local government funds to help clear the outstanding debts of treating non-residents last year as part of a provisional financial fund.

Travel insurance
The actual ins and outs of the new proposal were not made public yesterday because the government is still studying a number of measures, but sources did reveal that one of the biggest and costly problems is treating South Americans who have dual nationality as opposed to European Union non residents.

That said, one of the other big challenges for the local health service, and those across Spain, is the large number of tourists who come on holiday without any travel insurance and end up in hospital.

While the British Embassy issued a statement in response to the government's announcement yesterday, the Foreign Office website includes a “know before you go” advice page which stresses the importance of taking out travel insurance in order to avoid being faced with huge medical bills in the event of a serious accident or the need for medical repatriation, which can cost over 20'000 euros.

Obviously, no hospital in Spain is going to refuse treating a seriously sick or injured person, but someone at some point has to pick up the bill and doing just that is something the Balearics wants to improve.

The government is also going to be paying specific attention to those coming to Spain to void long waiting lists etc. in their country of origin and this is what they refer to as “health tourism.”

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