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Commission requests Spain to end refusal of European Health Insurance Cards to non-Spanish EU nationals

24/11/2011 Commission requests Spain to end refusal of European Health Insurance Cards to non-Spanish EU nationals

The European Commission has requested Spain to end its refusal to issue European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) to non-Spanish EU nationals who are neither employed, self-employed nor state pensioners, but who are entitled to healthcare on the basis of their residence in the Spanish Autonomous Communities of Andalusia and Valencia.

Since Spanish law permits this group of non-economically active persons to have access to the public healthcare systems in Andalusia and Valencia, they are "insured persons" under the EU social security coordination rules and should therefore benefit from the rights given by the EHIC.

Spain however denies that these citizens are 'insured persons' under EU social security coordination rules and, therefore, refuses to issue EHICs to them. The EHIC proves that a person is insured under a public healthcare system and entitles the holder to access necessary healthcare services during temporary visits abroad. The refusal by Spain to issue EHICs to the citizens in question means they are in principle personally liable for the cost of their healthcare when staying in other European countries.

Under the EU social security coordination rules, an 'insured person' is a person satisfying the conditions in an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland to have the right to social security benefits. Insured persons have the right under the EU rules to receive all necessary healthcare while staying in other Member States. The EHIC certifies this right.

The request to Spain takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under EU infringement procedures. Spain now has two months to inform the Commission of measures it has taken to comply with EU law. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Spain to the EU's Court of Justice.