Spanish Healthcare 101

7 September 2015 1 Comments Category: Just Landed

Did you know that the Spanish healthcare system is ranked among the best in the world? And that a 2013 study showed that Spanish women outlive other nationalities? The good news is that if you live or work in Spain, you too can have access to it. Keep reading to discover why this country´s healthcare system is so highly considered and how you too can benefit from it.

State healthcare is free to anyone living and working in Spain. That alone makes the Spanish Healthcare System one of the most envied the world over. No wonder it was ranked 7th best in the world! And it´s here to stay despite the 2012 plan to privatize hospitals. Like the information shared in this article, after “a wave of strikes by medical providers, as well as lawsuits and a popular referendum, Spanish unions and citizens won a decisive victory in the battle for public healthcare.”


What´s the difference between public and private healthcare in Spain?

While you don´t need to have private health insurance, it does allow you to get faster treatment, especially for non-emergency procedures. But if you just landed, and are not yet a resident or paying your contributions to Spanish Social Security, it´s best to have your own private health insurance if you want to avoid paying the full costs. Plus, if you have private health insurance, you´ll be able to make an appointment with a specialist much sooner.

Remember that if you are a member of the European Union, your EU Health Insurance Card is only valid if you are here on a temporary visit or studying. So, if you are already living here or have come prepared to stay, its best to have private medical insurance until you get your paperwork sorted.

If you are not from a EU country, remember that Spain has bi-lateral agreements that allow visitors (not residents) the chance to get free emergency medical treatments. Please make sure you contact your embassy to check if your country of origin has an agreement with Spain.


What do I need to sign up for Spanish Health Care?

If you are not yet a resident, nor a student, 26 years old and under, keep reading.

You must be registered at the nearest town hall for at least 1 year and apply for residency. If you haven’t had a chance to read our post on how to get a NIE, we encourage you to do so now.

Once you obtain your NIE, then will you be able to register with social security and get your number. Make sure you check with the authorities in the autonomous region you live in and speak to your consulate or embassy. Depending on what country you are from and your current situation (retired, divorced or separated from a Spanish citizen or resident…) certain privileges may apply.

So, once you’ve registered and have your social security number and your NIE, all you need to do is go to the nearest local health care center and apply for a health card. Once you have it, book your appointment and you´re all set to go.

Keep in mind that if you need a special type of treatment, you´ll need a referral and only public hospitals offer treatments free of charge, showing your social security card. Make sure you are familiar with the public and private hospitals in your area.

In case of an emergency, you must call this toll free number 112 from any cell phone or landline. Service is offered in English, French and German in most tourist areas. Remember, the name for Emergency or Emergency Room in Spanish is Urgencias.

For more information on Spanish Social Security, check this website out.  They have an English and French version too!

Are you looking to find work in Spain? Read all about it here.

Photo Credits: Shutterstock

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Embassies and Consulates, your home away from homeTypical Non Spanish

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