Palma.—More than 9'500 in the Balearics have already renewed their regional public health card which provides the entire medical history of the bearer. Details can be read by means of an electronic chip embedded in the card which can be read at authorised points in medical centres, ambulances and hospitals. But in fact the “new” card is only a provisional one.

1. Who should be applying for the new card?
The Balearic Health Service (Ib-Salut) says that those who need to apply are residents whose current health card has expired; people who have lost their card or who have a card that is badly damaged or unreadable; residents whose eligibility for healthcare has changed, for example those who have recently become pensioners; people who are applying for a health card for the first time.

2. What is it necessary to do to get a new card?
The bearer should go to his or her local health centre. Checks will be made whether the bearer is entitled to the new card and if that is the case, four copies of form 046 will be printed showing the data of the bearer.

3. When does the applicant go to the bank?
Once the bearer has form 046, he or she has to go to any one of the banks with which Ib-Salut has a prior agreement to pay the sum of 10 euros which is the fee for the issue of the card. At the moment there is a special offer of card renewal at half price so the bearer pays just 5 euros before returning to the health centre with a receipt.

4. Provisional card
Once the tax has been paid at the bank and all documentation is in order, the health centre which approved the bearer's eligibility will make a new provisional card available. At the same time, administration services at the health centre will give the bearer a date on which the final version of the card will be ready for collection.

5. How long does the new electronic health card last?
General guidelines issued by the regional health service state that the card is valid for four years for Spaniards, and two years for everyone else.
If members of the public who are card holders, or who wish to be, have any questions, information in Castilian or in Catalan can be obtained by dialling 902-079079. This in fact is the number that is used when clients of the regional health service want to make an appointment with their doctors at medical centres anywhere in the Islands.

The final version of the new card will need to incorporate a photograph of the bearer. A number of cases of fraud have recently come to light where more than one person has been making use of the same health card.

Medical data of patients can only be read at special authorised control points so even were the card to be stolen it would not reveal data to other third parties.