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Convenio Especial Availability in Andalucia – A Step Forward or Backwards?

The British Consulate claims that the Convenio Especial (paying into Spanish NHS, no exclusions) has been reinstated in Andalucia thanks to their lobbying and has been jubilant about this ‘success’ in the online media.

But is it actually a good thing? For many residents without the possibility to get private healthcare as a result of pre-existing conditions, yes, no doubt. That’s the first thing that comes to mind.

But wait, shouldn’t they have been allowed to register for state healthcare for free, since the Universal Healthcare Law was published in July last year and Andalucia consequently abolished the Convenio Especial? Or was this law simply ‘suspended’ and only ever intended for ‘sin papeles/sin recursos’ (those without legal authorisation nor sufficient means to reside here) anyway, as the Consul claims?

Illustrative quotes from an email from the Andalucian Health Service SAS, in answer to our queries re the implementation of the Universal Healthcare early August last year.

“Efectivamente, los convenios especiales que estaban vigentes han quedado extinguidos. Desde la Gerencia del Servicio Andaluz de Salud se les ha escrito a los interesados informándoles de que tendrán asistencia sanitaria pública sin pago de cuotas.

El Ministerio de Sanidad, Consumo y Bienestar Social tiene que desarrollar reglamentariamente la nueva norma por lo que todavía no podemos informarle de los procedimientos a seguir en cada caso. Lo que sí se puede hacer en este momento, es tranquilizar a las personas extranjeras porque de una u otra manera tienen cobertura sanitaria pública en Andalucía. ”

Indeed, the special agreements that were in force have been extinguished. From the Management of the Andalusian Health Service, the interested parties have been informed that they will have public health care without payment of fees.

The Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare has to develop the new regulation according to regulations, so we still can not inform you of the procedures to be followed in each case. What can be done at this time is to reassure foreign people because in one way or another they have public health coverage in Andalusia.

First of all, the Universal Healthcare Law from July last year mentions ´all residents´, no exemptions, no limitation to the specific group described above. It’s an entitlement to free healthcare for all residents by law. The email we received back from the SAS (quote above) also confirms this.

So why, when those fortunate few foreign residents that did manage to register for free healthcare in Andalucia under this law, residing here but not registered residents yet, try to formalise their status as resident, are they refused? According to the Consul, that’s only logical, as they receive healthcare for free, and are thus a burden on the state, something not allowed under Residency law.

But we fail to see the logic, it’s the same twisted abuse of Residency law by the INSS, denying post April 2012 residents their entitlement to free healthcare, while Social Security law clearly stated that all residents were entitled. And the Universal Healthcare Law has eliminated those constricting articles. So wouldn’t it have been better to lobby for further and more widespread implementation of the Universal Healthcare Law and its cover to be recognised for residency purposes?

I think our opinion on that is clear. And only time will tell if indeed the Convenio Especial is being recognised as valid for residency registrations, or residency applications as they will be post Brexit. As up to now, we know of only isolated cases where this was the case.

Naturally, we welcome member’s experiences to continue to keep our members informed. Specifically from those that managed to get a temporary health card under the Universal Healthcare Law, when the time comes to renew those.

Please note: The information provided is based upon our understanding of current legislation. It is not legal advice but is provided freely to enable you to be properly informed. We recommend that if you are considering taking action, you should seek professional advice.

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