Spain has one of the best health care systems in the world that consists of about 800 hospitals and 2,700 medical centers throughout the country. Even all the villages have at least one doctor in attendance who comes to the health center on a regular basis and you will always find a nurse (enfermera) in attendance. If you go to one of these villages’ medical centers chances are you will get to see the doctor on the very same day. Children under 14 have separate health accommodations and they must be treated in specific children’s health centers that are staffed by specialist pediatricians. You will find these children’s medical centers in the nearest town of any size.
The healthcare system in Spain is more than excellent. They have built a network of hospitals with accident and emergency departments that operate in a very similar way to that of the UK. When you come to the hospital, you are promptly seen by a triage staff and then treated as fast as necessary depending on the degree of your injury. After being treated if you need follow-up treatment then that is organized by the hospital itself. They even call you afterwards to check on you and even arrange visits by nurses to take care of you. You will be given a direct telephone number to the nurses office in case you need anything.
There is also some downside to the Spanish health care system. The Spanish healthcare system is not hundred percent free. You will have to pay up to sixty percent of your prescription fee. This rule applies to the Spanish nationals too. Another problem you might face here is not being understood. The doctors, nurses and staff work in Spanish and translators are not provided within hospitals or medical centers. This can be problematic as you cannot properly communicate your problem. Nevertheless, the good thing is you can find many foreigners living in Spain and they can help you out. These people are usually very helpful and you can call them up to help you out.
Spain has both public and private health care system working within the boundary of the country. You don’t need private health insurance to get treatment in the public health care system but you get treatment faster in non-emergency cases.
The state health care system is free for anyone living and working in Spain. However, in some Spanish islands you might have to travel to find a state healthcare provider. As an expatriate you are entititled to free healthcare if you meet any one of the following requirements.
- If you are a resident in Spain and work in employment or self-employment and pay social security contributions,
- If you are a resident in Spain and receiving certain state benefits,
- If you are a resident in Spain and recently divorced or separated from a partner registered with social security,
- If you are a child resident living in Spain,
- If you are a pregnant woman who is living in Spain,
- If you are under 26 and studying in Spain,
- If you are a state pensioner, or
- If you are staying temporarily in Spain and have an EHIC card
If you do not qualify for state healthcare, you have to organize private health care and pay the full amount of medical costs frankly which can be quite expensive. Do not take that chance and get your health insurance as soon as you get into Spain.
An important information is, that from 1st April 2014 S1 certificates will no longer be issued. This means that if you move to Spain from this date on and have not reached pensionable retirement age, you will not be covered under the reciprocal arrangements between the UK and Spain. Read more here:
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- EPIC (European Healthcare Insurance Card) Application form from the NHS site: http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/healthcareabroad/ehic/pages/about-the-ehic.aspx
- Application of EPIC Card by form through your local Post Office branch: http://www.postoffice.co.uk/health-insurance-card