Info on moving abroad with existing illness (SLE) - LUPUS UK

LUPUS UK
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Info on moving abroad with existing illness (SLE)

Debra60
Debra60

Seriously thinking of moving to Spain (currently live in the UK) and wondered if anyone else has made this move and how they got on with health care?? I can't get private healthcare insurance (have SLE and vasculitius) so would have to rely on Spain's equivalent of our NHS which I'm told is quite good but do they treat ex pats with existing illnesses ?? Any help/advice welcome.

18 Replies
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I also thought about that many times as we have a house in Spain . I think it would be difficult as I have lupus, kidney transplant & a quite a list of things also on immunoglobulin treatment weekly done at home subcutaneously . I don’t think they would fund me to be honest. Worth finding out things though. All the best on gathering advice & information x

Debra60
Debra60
in reply to tremarel

Thank u, think a lot if research required 🙄🙄

Bear in mind that Brexit still is a total unknown. Until the negotiations are complete we will not know what the status will be after March 31st next year. At present you could go to Spain and would be covered - that may not be the case next year. I live in Italy and on 1st April I might not have health cover. I may not even be able to stay here though I think that bad a scenario is unlikely. But as they are going at present - anything is possible.

If you are living and working in a country you usually pay their equivalent of NI and have healthcare cover the same as the local nationals. If you don't/can't work it is a very different matter - and once the UK leaves the EU you will have no more right to live in Spain than someone from China. You will have to apply for a visa to live there.

Debra60
Debra60
in reply to PMRpro

Thanx for yur info, I think the best thing I can do right now is wait until Brexit is finalised as it will no doubt be very different. I don't intend to work so not sure how that will affect me either! Just want to retire somewhere warm which sounds simple but clearly isn't, especially with an existing illness 😯 Thanx again, let's c what Brexit holds 🙄

PMRpro
PMRpro
in reply to Debra60

It wasn't clear how old you are. I am retired and currently I have reciprocal care using the local system because I have paid contributions in the UK all my life and have a UK pension - the EHIC arrangement allows that because the UK is an equal member of the EU system. My existing conditions are covered. When we first came here we worked for a while so my husband already has his Italian pension - very small but it includes healthcare cover just like anyone who has worked here. On my 67th birthday I will also be entitled to an even smaller pension - but the coveted healthcare too. But what will happen from April to September next year remains a mystery - and I confidently DON'T expect to be able to get private health cover. Bit of a b^%%"* really. I may have to come back to the UK - with nowhere to live...

Debra60
Debra60
in reply to PMRpro

I will be 58 this year, I have worked in the UK since I was 16, never been out if work, and I still work. I intend to continue to work until such time we decide what to do but the plan was to retire after we moved to Spain. We will have a little bit if money 2 take with us and we both have private pensions but do u get yur UK state pension also even tho yur not living in the UK (if that was the case)? And will Brexit change that also? I guess we don't know that but having paid NI all my life not keen on losing that benefit 😞

PMRpro
PMRpro
in reply to Debra60

I get my state pension - at present in the EU it is paid exactly the same as in the UK, including the rises when they happen. You get your pension anyway I think but in some countries it is frozen at the level when you leave the UK - Canada and Oz are two of those countries I think but don't quote me!

No-one knows what will happen after Brexit - they haven't signed on the dotted line yet! They have about 80% of an agreement - but if the other 20% falls through and they have a no-deal then it is all up in the air and anything could happen. I'm not holding my breath...

We moved here because we could - and David Cameron and his little friends have pulled the carpet from under my feet and we have no sure future. It isn't pleasant.

Debra60
Debra60
in reply to PMRpro

How awful 4 u, just waiting 2 c what happens. I guess our best bet is 2 wait until they decide on Brexit then c what our options r. I do hope it works in yur favour, yuv been very helpful, thank u 😁

If you move to Spain now and apply for residencia you have to take proof that you have full private medical cover. This changed quite a while ago. I would imagine with existing medical problems this could be very expensive.

I had to show I had medical cover here - nearly 9 years ago. The EHIC card did provide that until I was working and paying the equivalent of NI when I then got an Italian card. We have very little private stuff here in the north, it is an autonomous region so the rules are a bit different. Once I was entitled to my UK state pension I got a health card through that - and that is what is still hanging in the air at present. In September next year I get an Italian-funded card again - with my Italian pension. What will happen for the 5 months between we have no idea - except my husband also has a German pension and he could have healthcare cover through that - and the spouse is included. I just wish the gubmint would get their act together!

Make yourself a cuppa as this is a very long response!

I actually moved to Spain12 years ago. Was diagnosed with SLE, RA and hypothyroidism just over 4 years ago. It would be impossible for me to compare the uk health care and the Spanish system as i have no experience of being treated in the UK for these illnesses.

Initially we took out a years membership with a local health clinic each year, which gave you discount seeing specialists within the clinic. I was diagnosed by a skin biopsy done by a dermatologist but there was no rheumatologists at the clinic.

So we managed to fight our way into the Spanish health system. It is very different care offered here, you would be very unlikely to be admitted into hospital for care, as i found out when a disc burst in my spine, ended up in Urgencias 3 times and was put on a paracetamol drip in a corridor. One time I was taken to the hospital by ambulance given a paracetamol drip and asked if I needed an ambulance to take me home! The hospital said they would send me an appointment for an MRI which never came. I paid for private MRI scan which my husband and daughter took to a spinal specialist, who said without an operation i would never walk again. This was at the end of five weeks in bed!!

My local central salud (health centre) referred me to a rheumatologist for care of both RA and SLE, who only examined me for my RA and put me on methotrexate, and over the phone following blood tests was reduced 3 times due to liver not coping. On second visit my daughter and I said we wanted to talk more about the SLE symptoms, he then replied I don't know what is wrong with you but it doesn't matter as treatment is all the same. Went to farmacia (chemist) to discover he had prescribed methotrexate injection to be taken every day of the week!

Wrote a letter of complaint to GO, who sent me to internal specialist, having waited 1 and a half hours past my appointment time was called in to be told the doctor knew nothing about lupus and to go back to original rheumatologist! Then wrote another letter to the association of lupus and autoimmune diseases. This was forwarded to the head of rheumatology for the whole of Andalucia. I was then changed to a different health authority but still within Malaga. Had to wait 6 months before seeing an amazing specialist who gave me an hour and a half appointment. She said I definitely do have lupus but wanted to do all the tests and start my treatment again. Took me off the Metoject and started me on sulphasalazine. A couple of weeks ago I had a CAT scan as I'm incredibly short of breath all the time and the rheumatologist wonders if my heart or lungs have been effected.

The temperatures in summer are mostly in their 40s and the sun is incredibly strong so I spend all summer hiding from the sun and exhausted by the heat! Winter's are cold and chilly as the houses aren't built with any insulation and no wall to wall carpets. You need to be absolutely fluent in Spanish to converse with any doctor as very few speak a word of English,

I'm sorry to give you such a depressing reply, you need to really think it through before making such a huge decision. Our house is on the market as we are returning to the UK as I can no longer cope with the heat and sun.

I wish you good luck with whatever decision you make.

Sleepy head.

Wow that's not good, I do have my reservations, I'm frightened that I won't get the support I need and have already enquired about private health care and quite frankly I can't get it as its an existing illness!! A lot if serious thinking required 😯😯 thank u very much 4 yur response, I'd rather know than get caught out 👍

PMRpro
PMRpro
in reply to Debra60

Other countries are MUCH easier to cope in. My rheumatologist here always discusses things in English - not because I can't do "ill" in German (local language) because I can but because it helps him get even more practice in English. He worked in the UK for some time and the university he went to in Austria makes their students write theses and papers in English so it gets read more widely. This region is officially bilingual and all doctors are supposed to speak both German and Italian. A lot of Italian ones are bad at German - so then OH and I use English and we translate for the nurse who is there as interpreter!

I have a friend in Spain - has lived there all her married life I think and is married to a doctor. She struggles with the system despite being afluent Spanish speaker. It really is hard work moving to any country where you don't speak the local language - for all sorts of reasons, not just being ill. But Brexit is taking it to a whole new level!

Hi Debra60,

Have you also considered the impact of the Spanish heat and sun on your Lupus?

I have lupus but because I did not have any visible dermatological reaction in the sun, I never thought about it as a threat to me. I have a house in Greece and like you I decided to spend more time there. I was always careful using high factor suncream etc., I ended up in the hospital seriously ill with pericarditis. Both the Greek specialist and my own in the Uk told me that it was due to the intense heat and sun in Greece. It took me nearly 2 years to get better.

I wish you the very best whatever you decide to do. 😊

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