Madrid Spain

Healthcare System Information for Expatriates Living in Spain

According to a WHO report, Spain has the seventh-best healthcare system in the world. The European nation has continued to provide a high-quality chain of hospitals and other world-class medical facilities across the country. Anyone who lives and works in Spain knows that there’s a hospital or a medical facility located nearby.

Spanish citizens can obtain top-notch universal healthcare services at these facilities free of cost. The funding of Spain’s healthcare system comes from social security deductions made from the salaries of working people. The system is decentralized, which means that you will have to check the available services in your local facility yourself. There is private healthcare too, which is more advanced, but more expensive. Expats can look for some good global health insurance plans that can help deal with such high costs of private care.

Overview of Healthcare in Spain

More than 90% of Spaniards use the public healthcare system. Though it’s governed by policies laid down by the country’s health ministry, the entire system is decentralized. Because of that, the delivery of healthcare services varies for each region. The healthcare system in Spain costs the nation about 9% of its annual GDP. This works out to about €2,000 per person. However, public hospitals often struggle with staff shortfalls. At times, this shortage leads to over a month’s waiting time for obtaining a specialized treatment.

The private healthcare system, on the other hand, runs alongside the public healthcare system but is more expensive. Since it’s more reliable, expats prefer to opt for private care instead of public care. Private medical facilities have very short to almost no queues, which is another major reason why expats prefer getting treatment there. Health insurance covers their major medical expenses, saving them from any financial burden. Some insurance companies pay the money directly to the hospitals upon request, while a few others reimburse expats after reviewing the bills.

How does the Spanish Healthcare System Work for Expats?

All Spanish citizens have access to seguridad social, or the Spanish National Health System (SNS), which covers them for medical assistance, free of charge. Emergency medical services in Spain are accessible even by the country’s undocumented immigrants.

Expats may be able to obtain free healthcare services in Spain if:

  • They work in Spain and make social security contributions
  • They are eligible for certain state benefits
  • They recently separated from a partner who had a registered social security
  • They are country’s child residents or are pregnant women who reside in Spain
  • They are students under the age of 26 studying in the country
  • They are state pensioners
  • They hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and are temporarily staying in Spain

Pharmacies and Emergency Services in Spain

Expats can easily recognize a Spanish pharmacy with large green neon cross. Most of the pharmacies open daily, with a few of them even staying open 24/7. All the medicines are available for purchase at pharmacies only, and not at supermarkets, unlike in other nations. Prices for most of these are quite affordable due to strict government restrictions. The staff at Spanish pharmacies are generally excellent and well trained.

People can get both state-run and private ambulance services in Spain by dialing 112 (the country’s sole emergency number).

Necessary Insurance Paperwork for Expats

You have to approach the Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social (TGSS) to register with social security before you sign up for public healthcare in Spain. For that, you need your passport, certificate of residence, and a completed application to register for the services of a general physician. Once done, you can go ahead and register for a health card.

Best Private International Medical Insurance for Expats in Spain

If you are living in Spain as an expatriate, it is recommended that you obtain a global private international insurance plan that will cover your medical costs. There are a lot of global insurance companies that can help you with an extensive range of plans. Some of the best companies you can consider include Allianz Care, and Cigna Global. You must sign up for an insurance company so that you can enjoy top-notch medical assistance at the best hospitals in Spain.