The Board of Ministers approved a Royal Decree that has overturned the previous government’s health-system reform, which had limited its access.
This measure, which was taken yesterday, is very good news for everyone, including foreign residents and autonomos (self-employed workers), as well as immigrants.
The Government Spokeswoman, Isabel Celaá, made the announcement after the weekly board meeting on Friday (yesterday).
The Minister for Health, Carmen Montón said, “a fair society leaves nobody behind,” adding that as of this moment Spain has the right to health coverage.
As of this moments, for example, immigrants who are here illegally, can access public health facilities without charge, the same as any Spaniard. This health coverage also includes foreign residents, meaning that even if you are no longer working (de baja) you still have the right to public health services.
However, steps were taken to prevent “health tourism,” meaning people that come here on holiday to take advantage of the public health system rather than endure waiting lists in their own country – you have to be a resident to have access.
The Health Minister says that this will not mean extra financing for the system but, on the contrary, would make the system more sustainable as it allows a greater control of sickness, stops them getting worse, and does away with the having to use the A&E service in order to receive treatment.
She considers the limitations that the previous PP government placed on National Health to be the cause of a general deterioration of the health of those who had become excluded from the system.
Editorial comment: without doubt, denying medical treatment to immigrants who might be bringing in infectious diseases is not only counter productive, but also dangerous. It could be argued that universal health coverage is as necessary as a police force for everyone – limiting the coverage of either only puts society at risk.