The Andalusian health service, SAS, spent two million euros treating foreigners, either residents or tourists, during 2010 in Granada alone. Mind you, they passed it on to the private insurance companies or the countries of origin of these patients.
But the system works so that anybody and everybody gets treated, regardless of whether they are entitled to it – it’s only afterwards the SAS tries to cover this extra expense. Brits, Germans, the French and Italians, in that order, are the SAS’s prime customers in this sense and the majority are emergency treatment, cases, many from road accidents.
In other countries, like the US, for example, the treatment you receive depends on whether you can convince the hospitals that you can pay – not here: the first priority is to treat you and only then worry about who is going to pay the bill. The SAS is the best regional health service in Spain and Spain probably has the best public health sector in Europe.
It might not be perfect and certain traits can drive you around the bend, but if you are going to get sick and need an operation, you couldn’t be luckier than to be living here. They might have sod-off hospitals and brilliant surgeons in the USA, for example, but if you can’t afford what they can offer, what is the use of it?