Half of the patients in the Son Espases ICU in July and August are foreigners. | A. Busquets

Last year, the Balearic Islands received more than 16 million tourists and many of them used the public health system during their stay.

However, in order to receive healthcare they must have either private insurance or the European health card (EHIC) that finances emergency assistance within the European Union.

In 2018 alone, IB-Salut invoiced 31,730,000 euros to tourists from the European Community, a figure that represents an increase of five million euros compared to the previous year in which 26,620,749 euros were collected.

Charging Community tourists is included in the concept of third party billing which also includes insurance companies, mutual insurance companies, sports insurance or traffic accidents and which last year resulted in a total profit of 51 million euros.

The closing forecast for 2019 is 56 million euros, which fits with the economic adjustment plan that the tax office recently announced for the 2020 budgets.

Where the money goes

However, this benefit does not automatically pass to the Government. "The money goes to the compensation fund and we have to subtract the amounts of Balearic residents who have been served in other countries of the European Union or in other communities. Also discounted are the invoices of agreements with other reference hospitals of the State that serve us for example in organ transplants," explains Manuel Palomino, secretary general of the Servei de Salut.

In fact, the Government has just received the figures for funds collected in 2017 until June 2018, this has remained with a positive balance of 40,471,616 euros.

So "the hoax that the money from billing third parties does not stay in the Balearic Islands is not true, what happens is that the account is complicated," adds Palomino.

In spite of the fact that the emergency departments of the health centres carry out more revisions, the invoicing to tourists is smaller, since the most significant amounts are for trauma patients among which are included accidents, balconing, or diving, among others. Son Espases invoices 40% of the total expenditure.

Of the 57,590 cases last year, 16,555 came from the United Kingdom, 13,200 from Germany and 11,293 from Italy.