Regular readers will remember when we reported on the proposed changes to the healthcare system in France which would have left British expatriates who had taken early retirement having to pay for their medical treatment.  Well now, unfortunately a similar fate is facing those living in Spain on the Costa Blanca.

As if a failing Spanish property market were not enough to dampen the once irresistible allure of retiring to Spain, healthcare woes for those living in Spain are now putting off would-be retirees from seriously considering the country as a viable place to live.  But are the proposed changes going to become law and who might they specifically affect?

Well, according to the majority of opinion, not only are the proposed changes likely to become law, they are in the process of being ratified.  The provincial government on the Costa Blanca has become so concerned by the amount of money they are having to find annually to support the healthcare needs of retired expatriates in their province, that they are stripping away many expat’s rights to free healthcare.

Those affected will be those who have taken early retirement to live on the Costa Blanca – unaffected should be expatriates over retirement age and those who are on long-term incapacity benefit – but because this part of Spain is home to thousands of expatriates and is very popular with Brits of all ages, it is highly likely that there will be thousands of expats affected.

The British consulate in Spain has already reported receiving many phone calls from concerned individuals, and what’s more, there has been a sharp take up of private health insurance policies in Spain.  But the worrying thing is, health insurance is not cheap, and it becomes even more expensive the older you get and the more health worries you have to include with your policy.

In France a similar ruling was amended so that those already living in France were unaffected, it is only newly arrived expatriates under retirement age who are having to foot their medical bills.  Perhaps if enough expats complain and enough pressure is put on the provincial government in Costa Blanca a similar situation will present itself.  But even so, that still means anyone now considering taking early retirement in Spain will have to factor in health insurance and it is also a concern to anyone living in other provinces in Spain.  Other provincial governments will no doubt see that the Costa Blanca authorities have estimated that it costs them a billion euro annually to fund the healthcare of expats – it won’t be long before other regions tot up how much they could save by implementing similar proposals.

We will keep you updated on all developments to these healthcare woes for those living in Spain as and when we receive them…