AUSTERITY SPAIN

Government to charge illegal immigrants for healthcare

Rajoy administration tweaks previous full-exclusion decree

Doctors' association calls on medics to rebel

The government's plan to completely exclude illegal immigrants from the public healthcare system has been adapted to include a minor concession: undocumented foreigners will be able to access medical services under specific circumstances, or for a price.

The proposal being drawn up by Mariano Rajoy's administration, to which EL PAÍS has had access, is similar in effect to an insurance policy for private healthcare. For the under-65s, the cost will be 710.40 euros a year, or 59.20 a month. For those over 65, the fee will rise to 1,864.80, or 155.40 a month. In both instances the payment will allow access only to basic state healthcare services. Costs for medicine and health transport services will be excluded and should a monthly payment be missed, the policy-holder will have their medical access suspended for three months.

As in a previous decree signed in April, minors and pregnant women are excluded from the policy system and entitled to free healthcare. Even so, for prescription medicines these groups will have to pay 40 percent of the cost.

Other people exempt from the new regulation are those that have suffered any type of ill-treatment and asylum-seekers. Many regions, including Andalusia, the Basque Country and Asturias, plan to oppose the Health Ministry's order to bar the doors of surgeries to non-resident immigrants as of September. It will fall to the regions to carry out the implementation of the plan, including checking documents and managing the policy system.

The Spanish society of primary care physicians, SEMFyC, has already called on doctors to ignore the government decree.

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