International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Volume 82, May 2021,
With the passing of Royal Decree-Law 16/2012, Spain's national health system switched from a model defined by universal and free health care principles, to a private insurance system that excluded large population groups. Based on a qualitative research design, this paper examines the media treatment of undocumented immigrants’ prerogatives to public health care in Spain (2012–2018). The analysis of 234 articles, drawn from three major Spanish newspapers, reveals three frames that underscore the media's “rhetorics of inclusion,” which argue for the extension of free medical services to irregular immigrantsa topic traditionally underestimated by the literature. The moralist frame, supported by social justice arguments, is found in tandem with the cost-benefit frame that advocates for immigrants’ health care access as a means for containing medical expenses. The overall predominance of the legalist frame largely relies on arguments that reflect a Spanish political culture rooted in the universality of health rights.