One of the major reforms passed by the Spanish government this year has been that of the Health Service and whilst for most residents and EU Nationals the reforms translate into a 10% cost for prescriptions, whilst for those who are living in Spain illegally, the reforms could be, quite simply, life threatening.
Under the new law which comes into effect on September 1, illegal immigrants in Spain will lose their right to free health care.
Foreigners living in the country who do not have residency permits will be denied treatment at public hospitals and health care centres unless they are under 18, pregnant, or in case of an accident or other medical emergency.
The government wants to cut Spain's public deficit to less than 3.0 percent of gross domestic product in 2014 from 8.9 percent last year, the third-largest deficit in the eurozone during 2011.
It argues that restricting free health care to illegal immigrants and steps to curb "health tourism" by Europeans will save around one billion euros ($1.2 billion) per year.
However, not everyone is in agreement with the decision to deny basic health care to those living in the country, even if they are living here illegally.
Hundreds of doctors in Spain have today vowed to ignore the new law and continue treating anyone who needs medical help regardless of their residency status.
"My loyalty to patients does not allow me to ignore my ethical and professional duty and abandon them," a manifesto signed by 870 doctors and posted online said.
By signing the manifesto the doctors also registered as "conscientious objectors" against the law in a database launched in July by the Society of Family and Community Medicine, which represents 19,500 doctors.
The Ministry of Health said today it was working to create a system whereby non-Europeans in Spain could pay a fee to use the country's public health system, although some immigrants interviewed by the spanish press said that the sums being quoted were way out of their reach as they had no money, and without paperwork, were unable to work legally.
The ministry did not say how much they would have to pay but daily newspaper El Pais reported that those under 65 years old would have to pay 710.40 euros ($880) per year.
Older people could be asked to pay up to 1,864.80 euros per year, it added.
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