Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection

I'm an EU citizen from the UK, who has taken early retirement on a pension from my employer, and who now lives in Spain. Due to a kink in EU/UK law, as someone who isn't actually working, I'm not entitled to state healthcare cover in Spain, although I will have everything free here the day I get my first UK state pension payment at 66. It's a while to wait, as I'm 57.

The way most British expats in my situation handle this is to buy private insurance, as in Spain it tends to be relatively cheap and quite comprehensive.  So I've been insured by one of the Spanish-speaking world's biggest companies for 8 years, and currently pay 77 euros a month.  They paid for my surgery earlier this year, although not without a fight, as it could only be done in a state hospital (private clinics here aren't so advanced).  It's also worth noting that if you die while in hospital, private insurers won't pay up, and your estate will be landed with all the costs.

My policy is up for renewal on January 1st. As members here who've read my posts will know, I've made a pretty good recovery so far.  I expected my monthly payments to rise from 77 euros a month; but the company is now asking me to pay 900 euros a month! Clearly not an option....and it's worth noting that in Spain the law allows a company to charge you if you don't cancel your policy at least two months in advance of the renewal date. Luckily, I just made it.

Bizarrely, this means I am going back to work, and will soon be self-employed, as a web designer. This will mean having to pay Spain's quite high social security costs - about 300 euros a month - but does give me complete cover with no exclusions for any illness or existing conditions. Most agree that in Spain the public health system is much better than the private system.

If I moved back to the UK, and became a permanent resident there again, I would not have to pay anything. But with the eurozone crisis, the housing market in Spain and so forth, that's not an option for now, and besides, I like life here. It is a shame though that there isn't consistency across Europe, as you'd hope, and it seems bizarre that those who arrive on Spain's coasts in open boats as asylum seekers have more healthcare rights here than I do as an EU citizen.  I've got nothing against them having access to the system; I just think I should have the same right.

However, aside from all that, this does give  you an insight into the costs of surgery and how seriously Aortic Dissection is viewed by insurers.

Tags: aortic dissection, healthcare costs, private insurance

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Hi Tim..


not suprised. The actual cost - so I have heard - of an Aortic Dissection op and recovery and all costs associated with it is over $500K US in the States. My friend who is a NHS consultant said about the same for UK (about 200K£) Life Insurance - Hmm.. It is VERY difficult to get even travel insurance. Insurers - so an actuary told me - do not recognise that AD is a condition that one can actually be cured from. Go figure! Yet my doctor(s) has given me the 'all clear' time and time again.. you would think that we are the best monitored group in the world..yet a 55 yo man I know who is overweight and no exercise just has to pass a mild physical to get life insurance - with god knows what as the state of his arteries. I gave up trying to figure it out long ago. :-)





Travel Insurance .... That inspired me to fill in an online form from - 4 AD questions = £25 surcharge (based on 3wk holiday to mainland Europe).  Should it really that simple/cheap?  


I did alright outta' my AD really - one work related hospital stay cash back + critical illness (BUPA never saw that one coming).     

Dear Tim, I am gobsmaked at the rise in your healthcare insurance.  It is certainly much cheaper for you to pay social security even if you dont work.  I am very fortunate my partner is a pensioner and I am covered because of that.  I got it all sorted very shortly before I had my AD and what a blessing that was.  I have scan booked for this afternoon. 


The healthcare service is very good here but you do have to keep your eye on the ball.  Appointments are sometimes likely to go astray if you dont make them happen.  Good luck with it I get on fine.





I hope the scan results are reassuring!

I have a great deal of confidence in the Spanish public health system, which is shared by all I know who use it, despite the administrative glitches which I know it has. I just slightly resent having to officially return to work in order to be able to access it, particularly given that I wouldn't have to do anything if I were still living in the UK. 

The situation in Spain is further complicated by the fact that health services are managed by autonomous regions, who have different policies. For example, in the Valencia region, they have a special contribution rate for those who are not economically-active but not registered as unemployed - designed for the early-retired - of around 70 euros a month; but the Canary Islands don't have anything similar.



Hi Tim,


You raise an interesting point on Private Insurance v State (NHS) care. I can’t believe the increase your facing, but there again Spain is not the UK & there is also an important difference if you have Private Medical Insurance or one that is run by your employer.


Luckily I work for a large UK company & had the foresight to take out company Medical Insurance.  I have had two procedures – The first was my original AD & again luckily for me it was identified early & treated quickly under the NHS this being an emergency. All subsequent treatment(s) & consultations have been under Private Insurance. My second procedure was in August of this year for a Dacron implant & I have also had subsequent treatment(s) for related issues.


What it comes down to is “Speed & Quality” of care. Under Private Insurance each consultation or medical examination is quick (days/weeks) opposed to waiting months on the NHS. The second operation I had was well over £25K & the countless pre & post operative meetings/tests were all quick & paid for without hassle.


I have no doubt that had I waited for the NHS I would not be here today – “time waits for no one” as they say & even more for AD suffers. Critics will say the NHS has its good points & I certainly agree, but when it comes to having quick effective treatment you can’t beat private medical care.


Living abroad shows the disparity you have between similar NHS/Private schemes even though we are in theory one EU community.


I for one will stick with Private Insurance & I do appreciate I am lucky enough to afford it.




I think your comments admirably sum up how things are in the UK, where from my own experience, I'd agree that private care is often probably better than it is in Spain, and often better than the NHS. The UK's so-called "postcode lottery" also means that state health services are often very different depending on the area you live in. In the UK, I was in a similar situation to you, having NHS cover, but access to a gold-plated private scheme via my employer.

Spain's state healthcare system does have waiting lists, but they're frequently not as long as they are in the UK, and the general consensus is that its public system has better specialists, more resources and - often - a better standard of care (better nurse/patient ratios, for example) than the private sector, which surprises many outsiders.  Waiting times - if there's perceived to be some urgency about it - to see specialists can be surprisingly short.

It's notable that where I live, none of the private hospitals (and there are many) had the combination of skills and technology to treat my AD. In fact, the head of the A&E department at one of the best-known private centres said to me "if you'd have been brought here, you'd be dead", which is not to say it's not a good place to be taken for many mainstream health issues. But there is a good aspect of private care here in that you can decide to see a specialist this afternoon without any discussion with your GP, just make an appointment and go.

We'll have to see what the impact of the austerity measures will be over the next year, but even the incoming Partido Popular government sees the healthcare system as a crown jewel.  So there's part of me that's very relieved that I'm now going to be officially cared for long-term under the Spanish state system.



i truly hope it work out for you. I for one will continue to take advantage of my Private Insurance as long as it lasts. I know that at some stage i will have to revert to the NHS or pay a premium for Insurance once i leave the company or retire.


Best of luck!



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