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THE governments of Spain and the UK are determined to halt the sale of fraudulent travel insurance policies to travellers, which give exactly the same cover as the European Health Card, which is free.

Politicians in both countries are fully aware that these fraudulent policies lead travellers to believe that they have been sold private medical cover, for their trips to Spain.

The situation was highlighted when a 72-year-old British holiday-maker died after suffering a heart attack in Lanzarote.

Members of Spain’s Alliance for Private Health (ASPE), who represent private hospitals and clinics, have held meetings with British, Spanish and European officials about taking action to address the fraudulent policies.

These policies result in patients, who believe they have purchased private cover, putting extra strain on private hospitals, and risking their own health, without knowing it.

A large number of complaints have been made against fraudulent UK insurance companies, who, for years, have profited by selling travel insurance policies, which don’t cover some treatments, leaving patients with bills of up to €4,000.

The UK and Spanish governments, as well as the Community of Madrid, have informed ASPE, the Spanish Department of Private Health, that they are willing to put in place the first set of measures, aimed at curbing these bad practices.

ASPE also expects the involvement of Spain’s Ministry of Health, to add extra measures in a co-ordinated action between them all, for the main, affected regions.

Representatives of ASPE have held several meetings this week, after requesting up to 20 get-togethers with Spanish, English and European institutions, along with political parties, plus consumer protection and sector organisations.

In particular, officials from ASPE, have had talks with the British Embassy in Spain, the Spanish Foreign Ministry and the Community of Madrid’s Ministry of Health, as well as the Linkham company, to investigate the claims, and assess possible actions they can implement to improve the situation.

The ASPE objective is to seek support to tackle a problem saturating Britain’s Public Health system, with patients who have paid for a private policy, generating economic and administrative problems for private hospitals, as well as harming British tourists, putting their health at risk.

The British Consulate has pledged to distribute, through its channels, detailed information on the medical coverage given by the free European Health Card in Spain.

It will also offer useful information on travel assistance insurance, to encourage travellers to know clearly and precisely what their rights are, when they are staying in Spain.

Linkham, a company which markets UK travel insurance, has shown the same willingness for collaboration to find solutions, and to work more closely with ASPE to create a structure of mutual co-operation, between Spanish hospitals and British insurers.

ASPE has also met with representatives of the Secretary of State for the European Union of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose intention is to hold a meeting in September with the Ministries of Health and Labour to discuss the matter.

It also wants them to include travel insurance and medical-coverage information on the Spanish Embassy’s in the UK.

For its part, the Ministry of Health of the Community of Madrid has offered its support to ASPE to help combat the European Health Card’s misuse.

Apart from the organisations with which ASPE has already met, it has requested meetings with the Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare, and with the General Directorate of Insurance, under the Ministry of Economy and Business.

At a regional level, letters have been sent to the Ministry of Health of Andalusia, Catalonia, the Canary Islands and Murcia, and dates are already agreed with the councils of Valencia and the Balearic Islands.

Likewise, a meeting has been requested from the PSOE, PP, Citzens (C’s), United Podemos and Vox parties.

At British level, in addition to the UK Embassy in Spain, the Conservative, Labour, and LibDem parties have all been contacted, as have the National Health Service (NHS), consumer associations, and the Association of British Insurers.

On top of this, letters have been sent to the parties with the greatest representation in the European Parliament: European People’s Party, Party of European Socialists, and Party of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

According to the ASPE letter, sent to those organisations: “These companies are making a profit by marketing a citizen’s right; they manipulate and intimidate customers and defame Spanish private health service.

“This situation affects hundreds of patients, who do not know that their travel insurance policy does not cover assistance in private health centres, and confronts Spanish hospitals with unpaid bills, and unacceptable smear campaigns.”

According to ASPE estimates, the fraud affects between one and four patients per day, in each of the 200 hospitals represented by them in the biggest tourist areas.

But to support affected patients, private hospitals will provide claim forms to those affected by the fraud, urging them to continue their process of claiming liability from UK insurers.

In addition, they will offer affected patients the possibility of continuing that process with a legal advice, and specialised knowledge in the matter, from Britain, to claim for the costs of sanitary treatment or, at least, of the sum of the policy they have paid.

Likewise, private hospitals, affected by these irregularities but represented by ASPE, are measuring the number of cases during the summer months, accurately, to be able to assess the magnitude of the problem.

Regarding the main demands of ASPE, it would be essential for public hospitals to demand the payment of treatment from the insurers responsible for the patient, instead of the British Public Health system, regardless of whether or not they have a European Health Card.

It will also ask that these companies be required to transfer costs to public health, when patients are referred to them from private hospitals.

On the other hand, the General Directorate of Insurance of the Ministry of Economy, will be requested to urge the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK to have travel policies, with a specific document, clearly detailing medical coverage to the policy-holder, what is included and excluded from health care,  and to which centres they may or may not be treated at.

 

Short URL: http://www.canarianweekly.com/?p=49488

Posted by on Aug 9 2019. Filed under Local News, Home Page Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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