Spain's new government is working on a Bill of Law, or Royal Decree that will once again make free healthcare universal for everyone living in the country, irrespective of their legal status.
Back in 2012, the PP government cancelled 900,000 SIP, or healthcare, cards – of these, 150,000 were held by immigrants with no residence permits, and others by people in varying situations but who were not paying Social Security contributions, such as low-income cash-in-hand workers.
European Union citizens were less affected – those who had never been employed or registered as self-employed in Spain, and were not in receipt of a State retirement pension from any country, were able, in some regions, to pay a monthly fee of around €110 to guarantee them treatment, and in others, were automatically able to sign up to the system as long as their annual gross income did not reach €100,000.
For non-EU citizens in Spain in this situation – which would have included the British if the system were in place post-Brexit – their case was more complicated and, depending upon their region, they had to rely on private health insurance.
Tourists resident in the EU could obtain emergency care through their EHIC cards, defined as any medical issue that could not wait until they returned home, and holidaymakers from elsewhere needed to be covered by travel insurance.
It is likely that holidaymakers will still need to meet these requirements, but that residents – even if they are not registered as such – will be treated.
Although it is hoped the UK will continue to make annual per-head contributions to Spain for its State pensioners' healthcare after Brexit, the Spanish government's new stance sends out a fresh message of reassurance to any who feared they may be left without access to a doctor.