A Swansea woman who needed healthcare in Spain is warning that Brexit could mean that UK tourists would face higher costs, as they could lose the European Health Insurance Card, which guarantees them rights to treatment in other EU countries.
At present, UK visitors to all 27 other EU countries benefit from this cover. If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, those rights would vanish. Carole Parker, from Swansea, has been a frequent visitor to Spain over the past 35 years. She lived there for three years and speaks Spanish.
For Carole and her husband, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) has been a godsend. It has meant peace of mind as they know they can get treatment if they need it. Now, because of Brexit, this is under threat.
Carole Parker explained: “When we went to live in Spain, we transferred our health registration to Malaga. The authorities there spoke to our local surgery to register us.
They really looked after us very well indeed. My husband had heart problems and was put under the care of a specialist, with check-ups every three months
The hospital staff also offered to help me with my leg condition, which ended up with me having a knee replacement.
All this was possible thanks to our rights, as EU citizens, to state healthcare anywhere in the EU.
The EHIC card has always been accepted whenever I’ve needed healthcare in Spain. It is an absolute godsend.
If we leave the EU, we will lose the automatic right to healthcare. It has benefited so many British people like me. It gives us peace of mind.
We won’t realise what we’ve got until it’s gone. Unless we all work to ensure a People’s Vote, with the option to remain in the EU.”
Paul Willner, chair of Swansea for Europe, said: “British holidaymakers are already being hit by the hidden costs of Brexit. They are getting fewer Euros for their money as the pound has hit record lows.
Losing the health insurance card would add even more costs. British tourists would have to pay more for insurance or run the risk of having to pay big healthcare bills.
None of this was mentioned by the leaders of Vote Leave in the 2016 referendum. Now we know so much more about what Brexit would actually mean, the people should have the final say.”