Bloomberg News

Spain to Study Making Rich Pay for Health, de Guindos Says

April 09, 2012

Spain should consider making wealthier people pay for some of their health care as the country strives to narrow its budget deficit, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said.

“I believe we have to have a debate between the central government and the autonomous regions and think about whether in the current situation we have to provide all the health services for free to a gentleman who earns more than 100,000 euros ($130,000),” de Guindos said today in an interview with Cadena Ser radio station. “It is a very important debate in which the future of the quality of health care in Spain is in play.”

De Guindos’s comments follow ones he made in an April 7 interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper in which he said “a reform of the public sector, especially health care and education” was next on the government’s agenda as it bids to overhaul the euro region’s fourth-biggest economy. Health care and education account for about 60 percent of expenditure in Spain’s 17 regions, which handle more than a third of the nation’s payments.

Carlos Floriano, vice-secretary for organization in the ruling People’s Party, said in a televised news conference today that de Guindos’s comments were a “personal reflection.” The party favors free health care, he said.

Co-Payments

De Guindos told Ser that changing the health-care system is vital for guaranteeing the sustainability of high-quality services. The government does not plan to centralize services such as health that are carried out by regional governments, said de Guindos, adding that he doesn’t regard a general patient co-payment for health care as a “panacea.”

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will spell out the government’s planned reforms to a meeting of PP parliamentary deputies on April 11, an official in the government’s communications department, who asked not to be named in line with its policy, said in a phone interview today.

De Guindos said a recent surge in Spain’s borrowing costs was due to investors’ concerns about recession in Europe and the “vicious circle” it might cause and also Spanish regional government finances. He told Ser the government doesn’t plan any further tax increases this year and that Spain’s economy will return to growth in 2013 with the labor market stabilizing in the fourth quarter after a “tremendous hemorrhage in job destruction.”

“After a very difficult year, the sun will come out again from an economic point of view,” de Guindos said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Charles Penty in Madrid at cpenty@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net


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