Son Llàtzer Hospital. | Teresa Ayuga

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In 2017, the IB-Salut Balearic health service invoiced 27 million euros for care given to tourists with the European health card and a further 17.5 million euros for visitors with private insurance or from outside the European Union.

The total amount (44,576,446 euros to be exact) was down by 558,000 euros compared with 2016, although there was rise of 3,000 euros for travellers with the health card.

The general secretary of IB-Salut, Manuel Palomino, says that there are increasingly more tourists who rely only on the European card and do not have separate medical insurance.

Son Espases Hospital billed the highest amount for the heath card - 10.3 million euros. Among other figures, the health service in Ibiza invoiced 4.9 million euros; the primary health service in Majorca (public health centres, PACs) invoiced 2.2 million; three other hospitals - Manacor, Son Llàtzer and Inca - billed respectively 2.6 million, 2.1 million and 1.4 million.

Palomino forecasts that the amount for the European health card will increase in 2018 to at least 30 million euros because of new prices that were agreed at the start of the year. He adds that it could be as much as 32 million if a trend in the early months of this year is maintained. There has been a particular increase in demand during these months. In January and February, the health service sent out over 10,000 invoices that amounted to 5.4 million euros. This was 807,000 euros more than in the first two months last year. The average value of invoices in 2018 has gone up from 474 to 521 euros.

The total for the whole year, suggests Palomino, could be as much as 52 million euros, an increase of some 7.5 million.