Monday, 20 March 2017

Catalans abroad get access to health services in Catalonia


Barcelona (CNA).- Those Catalans living abroad and properly registered in the census will be entitled to medical care through the Catalan Health Service (CatSalut) while temporarily in Catalonia. This Monday, Catalonia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, signed an agreement with the Health Department, Labour and Social Affairs, and Department of Culture to guarantee this new service. This means that Catalans living abroad can apply for this medical card and then activate it while in Catalonia, either by calling 061 or going to their corresponding health clinic. The card will be valid for two months and could be extended. The agreement will also give these citizens access to culture and youth services.

According to Catalonia’s Minister for Health, Toni Comín, the universal access to health care law, currently pending passage in the Parliament, will eventually include these rights for Catalans living abroad. However, the agreement signed this Monday will allow these citizens to apply for the medical card right away and activate it the next time they visit Catalonia.

He made it clear that for Catalans abroad to be eligible they will have to be properly registered in the census and not hold any other European medical card. Those who meet these requirements will be able to apply for the card through the Department for Foreign Affairs and will receive it at their home address. The user will then have to activate the card on their next trip to Catalonia. The card will be initially valid for two months.

Comín explained that while in Catalonia, these citizens have a ‘non-resident’ status and what makes the agreement so important is that it gives them access  to health care without having to register. The Catalan Minister for Health described this measure as a historic demand and assured that it will put them on a par with other citizens, “since they will all have the same rights”.

Finally, he pointed out that the medical card will cover only the particularly individual and that relatives won’t be covered unless they meet the same requirements as the card-holders.

The importance of being in the register

According to the Catalan Institute of Statistics’ (Idescat) latest figures, there are currently 284,374 Catalans líving abroad, 7.7% more than in 2016. According to Comín, one of the medical card’s objectives is to encourage registration. Indeed, Catalonia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, expected the number of registered people to “increase substantially” and assured that being in the register helps maintain the bond with the Catalan Administration, so that their demands can be more easily attended to. In short, according to Romeva, the measure is aimed at “reducing the gap between Catalans living in Catalonia and those living abroad”. 

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