Following a recent press conference, the Spanish Private Healthcare Alliance (Alianza de la Sanidad Privada Española, or ASPE) has announced that it is taking measures to educate British tourists who it claims are being poorly served by their travel insurers, and heading on holiday to Spain with inadequate cover that only pays for public healthcare.
ASPE, which represents over 80 per cent of the private hospitals and healthcare organisations in Spain, claims that neither UK or Spanish agencies have implemented measures to bring clarity to – or, if necessary, question the sale of – policies that are ‘opaque’ about which medical providers British tourists should attend if they require medical treatment while in Spain. The consequence of this lack of clarity, ASPE suggests, is threefold: public healthcare systems in the UK and Spain face higher costs, as do Spanish private healthcare organisations, and British travellers face potential risks to their health. Unknowing travellers think that they can be treated at any healthcare facility – public or private – says ASPE, but this is often not the case.
The private medical healthcare business association even goes so far as to suggest that there may be fraudulent practices afoot, inferring that some companies in the UK may be deliberately taking advantage of local public healthcare systems. It has been reporting what it sees as underhand practices for a number of years but claims that nothing has been done about them.
Frustrated at a perceived lack of response from relevant authorities, ASPE has published information that will be made available at member health facilities in tourist areas, so that travellers can be made aware of their rights up front. It has also launched a new website, www.safetraveltospain.com, where more detailed information can be found – the website will be promoted via various digital campaigns.
ASPE also hopes to use next year’s International Travel & Health Insurance Conference in Windsor, UK to open constructive dialogue between the UK and international insurance sectors on this fraught topic.