European health card.


The UK and Spanish governments have stressed their willingness to address fraudulent practices in respect of the European Health Card. These stem from the sale of travel insurance policies which lead travellers to believe that they have bought private medical cover based on the card. These policies are essentially devoid of content except for what is in any event available via the health card.

This situation really came to prominence when a 72-year-old British holidaymaker died after suffering a heart attack in Lanzarote. Representatives of Spain's Alliance for Private Health (ASPE), which represents private hospitals and clinics, have held meetings with British, Spanish and European officials about taking action in addressing the fraud. It results in patients, who think they have purchased private policies, putting strains on private hospitals. Moreover, they are putting their own health at risk.

The talks include ones with the British Embassy in Madrid, which will ensure that detailed information regarding cover provided by the health card is available through online media. The ASPE stresses the fact that, on a daily basis, there are "hundreds of patients" who don't realise that these insurance policies do not cover attention at private health facilities. The alliance reckons that up to four patients a day are going to the 200 or so hospitals it represents in tourist areas.