Coronavirus could finally tip the balance in the cost of health care for expats already facing huge hikes in bills across Spain.
As the favourite overseas destination for British expats, Spain has a population of around 350,000 Brits, with many on a fixed income in retirement.
But due to Brexit, British nationals will no longer receive free health care and prescriptions when the transition period ends on December 31, 2020.
Instead, they will have to take out expensive private medical insurance.
Better off retired couples should be able to afford the typical €250 a month cost depending on their state of health – adding up to a €3,000 a year chunk of pension cash.
Cost of living too expensive in Spain
However, those struggling to make ends meet on the state pension of €1,100 a month would see around a quarter of their income swallowed by health costs.
Expat media Euro Weekly News reports that concerns over health care costs have led to thousands of expats looking to move to neighbouring Portugal.
The news source was told by many that their pensions simply did not cover the costs of living in Spain any more.
“Portugal is cheaper however with many private health companies 20% cheaper than in Spain. Rentals and properties are cheaper but expect this to change as demand rockets. Couple this with the tax incentives for expats and it’s easy to see why there is a long line of expats moving to Portugal,” writes reporter Tony Winterburn.
Portugal seeks to extend EHIC cover
Portugal is already considering a subsidised health care scheme for British tourists to keep them visiting the country after Brexit.
Tourism Minister Rita Marques will explore a scheme like the current European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for British tourists if a similar deal is not struck in the European Union trade talks.
“The Portuguese and the UK are the oldest allies in the world and no matter what happens the Portuguese will stand by the British. The British traveller is very important to us,” she said.
“We are looking to guarantee this health cover next year. We are currently looking at how often it is used and if it is making a positive impact. We are in the process of testing this and the other ideas right now.”