Healthcare in Spain: Essential Information for Visitors and Expats
Spain stands out as one of the healthiest and most appealing countries to live in, thanks to its abundant sunny climate, warm Mediterranean cuisine, and efficient healthcare system. These factors, combined with the expert guidance available at happylife.es, collectively contribute to making the country an attractive destination for retirees, especially those seeking a healthy and vibrant lifestyle. Moreover, numerous individuals with chronic diseases, particularly respiratory conditions, report an improvement in their health and overall quality of life after relocating to Spain. At happylife.es, we're dedicated to ensuring that your healthcare journey in Spain is seamless and well-informed.
The Spanish healthcare system is advanced, earning a prominent global ranking. In 2019, it secured the 7th position out of 89 countries on the Health Care Index and held the 3rd rank in Europe, following Austria and Denmark. Although the Spanish social security system grants locals access to healthcare services at no cost, non-residents and expats should obtain private health insurance. Private health insurance proves beneficial for those requiring specialized medical care or seeking premium services without enduring waiting times for appointments. Additionally, private healthcare coverage facilitates easy access to English-speaking doctors for expats and visitors.
Do You Need to Purchase Healthcare Coverage?
Residents working and living in Spain contribute official income and social security taxes, ensuring access to public healthcare services. However, if you are ineligible for public healthcare insurance, you can either apply for private health insurance coverage or pay for each visit and treatment separately as needed. Another option is the "convenio especial," a state-run scheme offering basic social security and healthcare coverage on a paid basis.
Application for State Healthcare
For residents eligible for state healthcare insurance, the first step is to register with local authorities. This involves registering your residence address on the "padron," after which you'll receive your certificate of registration, known as "empadronamiento." This certificate is required for applying for a healthcare card. Another crucial document is your social security number, usually issued by your employer. If your employer hasn't provided a social security number, you can obtain one from the local Tesoreria General de la Seguridad Social (TGSS), whose address is available on the local government's website.
Once you have the necessary documents and receive your healthcare card (TIE), you can register with a doctor at your healthcare facility. You can choose a general practitioner (GP) for yourself or a pediatrician for your children from the local healthcare facility. However, a referral from your GP or pediatrician is necessary if you need to consult a specialist.
Your TIE card serves as proof of legitimate healthcare coverage in Spain. Whether you need to see a doctor, use public health services, or purchase prescribed medicines from a pharmacy, presenting this card allows you to receive the necessary service or medications.
Benefits of Spanish Public Healthcare
Overall high quality with well-trained medical personnel
Well-developed network of healthcare facilities, globally ranked
Coverage for the beneficiary's direct family, including spouse, dependents below 26 years old, and even siblings
Drawbacks of Spanish Public Healthcare
Long waiting lines for visits and treatment from specialized medical professionals, various treatment procedures, and surgeries
Inability to choose a preferred doctor from any other facility except the one registered based on your place of residence
Lack of English-speaking personnel at public healthcare facilities
Incomplete coverage of healthcare services (e.g., dental care is not covered by public health insurance)
Getting Private Healthcare Coverage in Spain
While private healthcare coverage is generally not mandatory, there are compelling reasons to consider it. Private health insurance enables you to avoid long waiting times for specialist appointments and access additional healthcare services. Providers offer various types and coverage plans, allowing you to choose a package tailored to your specific needs.
If you are visiting Spain, basic health insurance is mandatory even when applying for a Spanish visa. Options include purchasing travel health insurance or applying for Spanish private health insurance online. EU citizens can enter Spain with an EHIC card, providing health coverage within the European Union. However, non-EU foreigners must ensure their health insurance package offers equivalent protection in Spain as in their home country.
When applying for private health insurance in Spain, local providers can provide valuable insights into the healthcare system and guide you on coverage options. For instance, if you desire dental services, which are often not covered by public and travel insurance, you may opt for a package that includes dental services at no additional cost.
Private Health Insurance Providers in Spain
When selecting private health coverage, prioritize providers based on the range of medical services covered within the package rather than the price. Consideration of services over cost is crucial, as it ensures you don't overpay during emergencies when specific services are not covered.
There is a broad array of healthcare coverage plans, ranging from low-cost options covering basic services to more extensive plans. The health insurance plan and its price vary depending on the provider, and factors such as age, gender, health condition, and coverage requirements influence the cost. Prices can range from €50 to €200 per month for an individual, with lower per-person costs for family bundle insurance packages.
Popular and trusted providers of health insurance coverage include:
Before consulting with a health insurance provider, you can compare offerings online using resources such as Acierto and Rastreator. These platforms help you assess and compare plans, services covered, and prices based on your preferences.
Emergency Numbers and Useful Contacts
112 – General emergency number for Spain and Europe
092 – Local police in Madrid and SAMUR ambulances
+34 629 823 493 – HM Hospital Emergency Contact (available 24/7/365)
901 123 456 – Quirónsalud (available 24/7/365)
091 – Spanish national police
061 – Ambulance ("ambulancia")
913 664 616 – On-duty pharmacy
If you have questions or need assistance with health insurance registration, finding a suitable provider, or navigating public or private insurance, feel free to contact us. We are here to help answer your questions and guide you through the necessary steps to secure healthcare coverage in Spain.