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Right to be Forgotten for Cancer Survivors in Spain

The right to be forgotten for cancer survivors in Spain may become a reality after the passing of a decree by the left-wing government of Pedro Sanchez.

The idea is that those people who have overcome cancer and have not had any treatment or relapse for the five following years cannot face restrictions when contracting financial or insurance products. This will mean that insurance companies will not be able to treat cancer survivors differently from anyone else. For example, by excluding these people from contracting health insurance or life insurance.


What will this mean?

Right To be Forgotten for cancer survivors in Spain (RTBF) means that after surviving cancer the patient should be able to try and return to a normal life. Something that is difficult because mortgage companies and insurance companies ask about previous medical history. They use this information to influence their decisions on whether to provide services. The legislation was already in place in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Romania. The European guidance suggests that financial and insurance institutions cannot collect medical information about a person’s cancer history if the cancer treatment ended more than 10 years ago. (In France it is five years. In some countries for people aged between 18 and 21 the term is five years after treatment ended).

For Spain, the legislation puts the period at five years after the end of all treatment. If during the five-year period, the person has no further treatment or relapse then the insurance company or financial institution cannot discriminate against the cancer survivor.

How will this new legislation help cancer survivors?

Once the insurance companies act upon the new legislation any agreement will be null and void if it includes discrimination against someone who has been treatment and relapse-free from cancer for more than five years. So if you are a cancer survivor a bank cannot refuse a mortgage for that reason. Neither can an insurance company use that information to decline to provide you with a health insurance policy.

Insurance companies will not be able to decline health or life insurance solely on the basis of having suffered cancer if the patient has had no treatment or relapse for a period of five years. This will help cancer survivors return to a more normal life after illness.

When does it come into effect?

The approval of the new legislation was at the end of June. Once published in the BOE the financial organisations that it affects have up to nine months to make adjustments to how they deal with this new law.

However, with the announcement that there are elections in July 2023, it now depends on what the new government decides. If Pedro Sanchez is returned one would assume the law will continue to be processed. However, if there is a new President we will have to see if they continue to advance the law or not.

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