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Healthcare in Spain

What to do if you need a doctor, dentist, physical therapist, specialist, or hospital in Spain? If you are staying temporarily or the whole winter in Spain, for example. holiday, on business visit, etc. or as a resident. Doesn´t really matter what situation, here is the information!

First of all: You don't have to worry at all, they are most likely in the neighborhood and a lot of them speak English. Even beyond English, since there are so many foreigners living permanently on the Costa Blanca. The private health care on the Costa Blanca is definitely as good as in the rest of Europe, and in many cases even better. Spain is like in the top 10 with best hospitals overall. A lot of Dutch, Belgian and English medical specialists moved to this area to work here. Most doctors on the Costa are very trust worthy.

And at each public hospital in Spain, or any public doctors post, they take good care of you with an European health insurance card (EHIC), where at least you are assured of the basic health care, or with an identity/health insurance card of the Dutch, Belgian or English health care provider chosen by yourself at a doctor or specialist. The only risk you have is that you have to pay in cash. Later on, you get this amount back from the insurer. Especially if you have reported this in advance to your own insurance. Also, your travel insurance can help, if there are any discussions regarding the prices.

Good, reliable care for all

When you are here temporarily (but officially no longer than 6 months per year). Having a good and relaxing life. But suddenly you get toothache or you are suffering from a wasp sting that turns out to an allergic reaction, you have eaten something wrong, allergic reaction to the bright Sunlight or even worse cases. There are always medical centers, doctors and hospitals nearby. Where you as a foreigner are also welcome.

No waiting lists & effective research

Two more pleasant things: there are little to no waiting lists and the search for the right diagnosis and treatment, it is remarkably efficient and effectively organized here on the Costa Blanca in Spain. Efficient, because many examinations of the total research take place on the spot and are immediately addressed in the first session. So, the 1st diagnosis, blood tests, photo´s or ultrasound scans and the possible results are identified, you hear what they immediately can do for you. For extra blood tests and MRI´s there´s little to no additional travel time lost, that determined the effectiveness. So, you don´t have to come back and forth to other visiting addresses and you get the first recipe note right away when you leave.

Immediate payment after treatment

Immediate payment after treatment, we had to get used to it. But this good news as well, you'll get it in most cases, reimbursed for 100% from your insurance in your homeland, assuming you are well insured of course. For some health insurers there is an extra condition. First you declare at your health care and what is not covered you can declare at your travel insurance. Obviously, you maybe have a big party which is usually called own risk.  If the treatment extends beyond the 1st general practice research, plus the first medications. We recommend that you call your insurance to ask permission for the next steps, which will usually not be a problem, because the medical treatment here is often cheaper than in our home countries.

Seguridad Social with additional extra private insurance

When you want to settle down permanently in Spain, how to does the healthcare system works?
First you have to qualify for the so-called basic insurance, you will probably also have this system in your own country. Here in Spain it is called Seguridad Social.

The Seguridad Social by the Spanish State health care that can be offered to each resident who has the right through his own health care, at least if you contribute to the health care in your own country. There are international Government agreements (treaties).
With basic medical care delivered by the State hospitals or nursing homes, with the General and State specialists is nothing wrong at all. You have the right to a Government-selected family physician in a doctor’s post in your hometown (Centro Salud), they refer to a State hospital or specialist in the region if you need some extra medical attention.

And that is the big difference with the so called additional private insurance, in which you're more freely to choose your own hospital, the family doctor or the specialist. More can be found under the title private health care or Private insurance!

The Spanish basic insurance (Seguridad Social) you can only get, if you are registered as a resident with a written proof from the townhall (Padron Municipal) and a complete filled in form E121 (this form you will only obtain when you unregister yourself from the social insurance in your homeland). They Make a report for the regional office by Seguridad Social.

How do you get it?

  • Inform your existing healthcare insurer on, the date of your permanent move.
  • Then you will receive the so-called healthcare insurance E121 form. Caution you need 1 copy for each family member.  
  • Sign up in the population register of your new Spanish municipality
  • Sign up in the Seguridad Social (leg 121 on the form)
  • Ask for your health care card (CIP map) in the local Centro Salud
  • Subscribe with any private health insurance. (see below). This is an option of course!

There you go! You are guaranteed, on presentation of a CIP card that almost all medical expenses will be covered. Please note that the medicine costs are not always reimbursed, check this in advance with your health care provider if it’s reimbursed by the State, for which of course you will have to pay a premium through the Seguridad Social.

Private Health Care? Private insurance!

If you want to choose your own hospital, specialist or doctor you will need a private healthcare insurance in Spain. Otherwise they will just send you over to the public places. Which are chosen by the Government. Check always up front if the hospital is on the list of places which is included in the insurance. They usually have a lot of different collaboration partners.

Please note that in Spain there is no assumption duty and that means, that there are quite a few insurance companies with an age limit. For example, a person over a certain age can be exclude for specific medical treatments. Oncology for example.

You'll possibility get your own family doctor, specialist or hospital. Therefore, it’s easier come in contact with an English-speaking doctor, hospital or a specialist. They treat you faster and more (customer) friendly. More medical possibilities are provided, larger rooms can be available, less people on the ward. Also, a great advantage is that suppliers have an better contact with international insurance companies, so that the treatment can start quickly and subsequent payment by the insurance company is regulated and will hardly give any problems. Another thing is the medical supplier likes this, we noticed. Therefore, the cash that you need to pay in advance of course expires.  About any difference in the medical quality, you don't have to worry at all. They are both one the same level as many other places in Europe or even better, especially on the Costa Blanca.

Extra attention:

When you need medical care in a private care home or a nursing home. You can contact a private home care setting (we advise to do this with a referral from your GP). This setting declares the home or nursing home costs to the international social security of your home land the account is then largely paid by them. But the premium must be paid entirely. If so, you are limited (max. 6 months) to use the home care in Spain at the expense of the international social security of your home land, but always check this in advance. Good luck! Because it is a big hassle with a lot of legal documents, it appears to be a legal inequality. Because you have to pay two premiums. The European Government is very busy to sort this out in the near future.