Spain has retained a first class reputation in respect of healthcare provision, frequently in the World Health Organisation’s top ten for providing the best healthcare in the world. The Spanish healthcare system offers diverse models of public and private health services and collaborations, allowing for a superb quality of healthcare, benefits and hospitals.
No matter where you are born, Spain, UK or another country, Spanish health professionals are dedicated to providing quality physical and mental health for all patients. When clients ask us “how is healthcare in Spain accessed” we like to inform of all the available options for medical care in Spain bearing in mind that this aspect of relocating to another country is essential.
The possibilities for public and private health care will depend upon your financial circumstances. As in most countries, Spain has a public healthcare system, financed by the payment of those living and working in Spain and paying taxes.
If you are living in Spain and not paying into the social security system or prefer an alternative option to the public Spanish health service, you can pay for private health care.
You can also subsidise public healthcare with private healthcare, to have the benefit of both. Now you know how does healthcare work in Spain, you can assess which one, or if both, best suits your needs.
Do foreigners get free healthcare in Spain?
If you a resident in Spain, to have access to free healthcare, you need to pay into the Social Security System. This rule applies to healthcare for residents and also healthcare for expats. Regardless of your nationality, if you pay into the Spanish Social Security System (Seguridad Social) for at least a year, you are contributing to many available benefits.
Benefits include general primary care, care for pregnant women, specialist care, emergency care, mental health and social care. UK Citizens living in Spain fall under the ex-pat umbrella and, due to a reciprocal arrangement with the UK, retired British expats carry over their pension and free healthcare entitlement.
Of course, this is subject to change in 2021 when the UK formally exits the EU at which point UK pensioners wishing to retire to Spain may not have this advantage. However, both the Spanish Government and the British Government is working hard to find a solution that will benefit future healthcare provisions for free health cover in Spain for UK retirees.
For US citizens wishing to relocate to Spain, if you are working or self-employed, you will need to obtain your Spanish social security number and health card, after which you can take advantage of free health care. If you are not working, then the options are to claim Seguridad Social, or you will need to take up one of the many private health care options.
Free healthcare for EU citizens follows on from the above. For example, you will need to be working or have reciprocal rights to obtain access to healthcare via the social security system. Many countries in the EU enjoy free health care provided they fall under one of these joint agreements.
If you are from an EU member state, visiting Spain for a short time, you may benefit from temporary free healthcare provided by the European Health Card. The card only covers non-residents on brief visits to Spain, offering basic healthcare provisions for patients such as emergency treatment should you fall ill during your stay.
How to register in Spanish healthcare?
Each autonomous community throughout Spain has a responsibility to provide healthcare and information about health services for their patients. In this respect, you will find a healthcare centre (Centro de Salud) in every municipality, even in tiny villages.
Any citizen or worker may apply for healthcare in their municipality for themselves and their family by following these steps:
- 1️⃣ To obtain a health card and register at your local health centre, you will need a Spanish Social Security Number (SSN).
You need to complete Form TA1 to receive your SSN available to download from the Seguridad Social website, or you can go along to the Seguridad Office in your municipality.
- 2️⃣ You will need to show your town registration certificate, known as an empadronamiento.
- 3️⃣ The next step is to take along your empadronamiento, your SSN, and your Spanish ID to your local health centre. The admin office will complete the necessary forms, and this is the opportunity to chat to the medical administrative team to get any help you require and find out who is your local doctor and details of all health services on offer.
- 4️⃣ Finally, you will soon receive your new Spanish Health Card, allowing you to relax knowing you have access to one of the top medical services in the world!
Private health insurance in Spain
For many reasons, expats decide to top up their public healthcare or opt to go completely private. For example, dentist services are not free under the public health system, and you will need to pay for each visit to the dentist.
In this respect, it is helpful to know the options and the cost of private healthcare in Spain, especially if you are obligated to have health insurance for residencia in Spain.
Of course, costs will depend on several factors, for example, age, mental health, hobbies, lifestyle choices, and also the cost for health insurance in Spain with pre-existing conditions will vary.
Average monthly premiums for basic insurance ranges from €37 for a single person upwards, from €177 for a family of four and €142 for a senior couple. Costs will depend on any extras you require, including private dentist care. Co-payments also keep premiums low as the insured will make a small contribution towards the cost of each treatment, great if you don’t generally visit your doctor often.
Some top names in private healthcare include AXA Health Insurance, Asssa Health Insurance and Sanitas Health Insurance. Each can provide various levels of coverage depending upon your requirements.
If you are travelling from outside the EU you will need to look at Spanish private healthcare, and many of the top brands include international health insurance. However, it is worth checking the small print to ensure full coverage for expat health insurance in Spain.
Shop around to get information on cheap health insurance but make sure your local health centre and nearest hospitals recognise your chosen insurer or you might find yourself with no coverage and paying for treatment out of your pocket!
Need more help or information about hospitals, emergency treatment or how to access a doctor in Spain? Our friendly team are ready to speak to you, whether you need advice regarding general medical matters, if you are pregnant and want to find out about maternity services or have concerns regarding access to mental health services.