After reading many many stories saying that some hospitals in spain were refusing the EHIC, I decided to do some research myself.
So I called the Hospital Costa del Sol and said that I had a guest with stomach-ache, and he had the EHIC. the woman that answered said that it would cover only "First Aid", I then asked what happened if his pain turned out to be an appendicitis, she said that would NOT be covered. WHAT??.
So I called the CHARE in mijas and asked the same thing, they put me though with billing and said that every urgent treatment would be covered, even surgery.
After this I called central services in malaga (delegación territorial de salud y bienestar social), and asked if what they had told me at costa del sol hospital was right, and they said NO, that every urgent treatment is covered.
One caveat is that when I called the costa del sol hospital, they didn't put me through with billing, so perhaps the lady that answered just didn't know because it was not her job, but be careful.
If you travel go to this page and print your rights in the country you are travelling to.
You will see in the social security ministry page that the EHIC entitles you to:
"The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a personal and non-transferable document that certifies the holder's entitlement to receive any necessary medically-related health care benefits during their temporary stay as a result of work, study or tourism, in the territory of the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland, taking into account the type of the benefits and the duration of the stay, in accordance with the legislation of the destination country".
Here is the link to that page
Also, here is the number for the regional delegation in malaga: 951 039 800 this is where I called, I mentioned that it was regarding the EHIC and they put me right though.
And remember, if they deny urgent care (that is covered by the card), start by saying that you want:
1) to speak with the manager in billing.
2) to make a "hoja de reclamacion".
The british consulate recommends that you take a private insurance BUT this is because repatriation, lost goods, stays in hotels are not covered by the card, and if you have a serious condition you could run quite a tab just staying in a hotel while your loved one is being treated. They do not recommend this because the hospitals have the right to deny treatment.
and here is the information that the Europe page gives to healthcare providers about what is not covered:
A patient in possession of a European Health Insurance Card is entitled to all benefits in kind which "become medically necessary during a stay in the territory of another Member State, taking into account the nature of the benefits and the expected length of the stay". Therefore, he must be provided all the types of medical care and treatment that the patient's state of health necessitates to enable him to continue his stay in your country under safe medical conditions. The key is that he should not be obliged to cut short his visit in order to return to his country of residence for treatment. However, you are not obliged to provide certain kinds of treatment that can wait until the patient has returned home (most types of dental treatment, for example). The patient might well have problems obtaining reimbursement for treatment that goes beyond what is strictly necessary in the context of a temporary stay. In addition, some types of treatment extend over a period of time and necessitate follow-up which is not compatible with the temporary duration of the patient's stay in another country. In these cases, once the patient has received "holding" or primary treatment, generally speaking it is preferable for him to return to his own country of residence and his own doctor for further examinations or certain types of treatment
Here is the link to that page
So remember, you have the right to urgent treatment in this hospitals:
Carlos Haya, Clinico Universitario and Materno Infantil : Málaga
Hospital Costa del Sol, CHARE Mijas and CHARE Benalmadena. I think this would be where tourists would have more chance of having problems.
For more information about healthcare, visit my blog http://compasshealthcare.blogspot.com.es/