Healthcare In Spain For Expats

The Spanish healthcare system is world-renowned, and all for the right reasons. It consists of a network of many hospitals (public, private non-profit, and private for-profit hospitals), pharmacies, and medical centers to provide patients with the best medical care in Spain. Some people have said that in most areas of Spain, you are only 15 minutes away from a hospital or an emergency center.

In 2018 the Euro Consumer Index ranked Spain 19th. The Spanish healthcare system is known for the quality of service it provides Spanish citizens and expats in both private and public systems. If you want to live in Spain, you will initially require private healthcare in Spain for expats.

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Healthcare in Spain

Here are some facts about Spain’s healthcare system:

  • Each autonomous region runs the healthcare system.
  • Healthcare is free for the citizens of Spain as well as legal residents of Spain. The taxes the citizens of the country pay for the public medical system. However, all elective procedures are required to be paid for by the patient.
  • The Spanish public healthcare system offers 99% of the population coverage for all their healthcare needs.
  • There are around 453 hospitals throughout the country
  • There are approximately 21,460 pharmacies available for medical needs.
  • The Spanish healthcare system is also known as Seguridad social.
  • Even by law, if you’re an undocumented citizen, you still have the right to treatment. This is what makes the Spanish system known for its efficiency and the service it provides to undocumented migrants.
  • However, as an expat, you might require expat healthcare in Spain. Several companies offer extensive coverage of your healthcare needs. They are not specific to an area or hospital and cover chronic and terminal diseases. To gain residency, you will require private healthcare coverage in Spain for one year.
  • The benefit of having private health care in Spain is that it lowers the cost of unexpected health occurrences, and it can offer 90% to full coverage in which you are expected to pay almost next to nothing.

Private Healthcare Coverage Estimates

If you are looking into private healthcare, then here are some cost estimates that can come in handy! The cost of healthcare in Spain is relatively cheap compared to other countries.

  • A visit to the emergency room can cost about €200 (240 USD)
  • One day at a Spanish hospital can cost you around €385 (426 USD).
  • Primary care can cost around €100, while specialist care can cost anywhere around €150 to €200.
  • Ambulance fees can cost anywhere from €20 to €120, depending on the time, distance, and resources a patient requires.

Apart from that, prescriptions vary depending on separate individual needs. However, the public health care system does not cover prescription medications or dental visits.

Many top surgeons and medical students who graduate from universities in Spain work within the public health care system. Doctors not only find the most effective treatment for patients; they also try to provide patients with the most cost-effective treatment.

The cost to purchase private healthcare in Spain is very inexpensive. Catalana Occidente Seguros is one of several insurance companies in Spain. They offer various insurance options, including private healthcare. For example (at the time of writing), a 65-year-old expat living in Barcelona can expect to pay about €148/month ($163 USD). Find out your estimated private healthcare expenses here.

How Can You Access Public Healthcare in Spain?

Since healthcare is a state-funded system in Spain, if you live in Spain and you are a citizen, then you are automatically eligible for public health care. However, non-citizens or people who are unemployed can also access the public system in certain circumstances.

If you want to register for Spanish public healthcare, then you must be living or working in Spain. If you are an expat, you are eligible for access to public medical care in Spain if you’re:

  • a child resident in Spain;
  • a pregnant woman who is a resident in Spain;
  • a resident in Spain and recently divorced or separated from a partner registered with social security;
  • a resident in Spain and work in employment or self-employment and pay social security contributions;
  • a state pensioner;
  • living in Spain and receiving certain state benefits;
  • staying temporarily in Spain and have an EHIC card;
  • under 26 and studying in Spain;

Healthcare for the British in Spain is relatively simple too. Currently, if you are a UK or EU pensioner, then you’re also automatically ineligible for the Spanish healthcare system. If you’re not interested in the public system, you can also opt for many other private options.

Healthcare for Expats in Spain

Healthcare for expats in Spain is relatively simple. You need to apply for the healthcare option with an insurance company in Spain. Several insurance companies provide quality healthcare insurance to expats moving to Spain.

Here is a list of some healthcare companies in Spain:

Catalana Occidente Seguros – visit their website here.

Sanitas Health Insurance – visit their website here.

Adeslas Insurance – visit their website here.

Asisa Insurance – visit their website here.

Expatriate Healthcare – visit their website here.

AXA PPP International Healthcare – visit their website here.

They also provide health insurance certificates for expats who are applying for residency, which is required with your visa application. Insurance companies aim to provide affordable healthcare insurance for everyone.

Expats have access to several insurance plans, with varying ranges of price, and adjustable complements whenever required by the insurance user. The Spanish national health system offers patients top-quality service, with quick response rates and qualified doctors as well.

If you are a student studying in Spain, then there are student medical insurance plans as well. Students have access to all the hospitals and medical centers within the network.

All you have to do is apply with your name, date of birth, and the area you are residing in to get a quotation.

What To Do In Case Of An Emergency?

If you are a Spanish citizen or an ex-pat and are involved in an emergency, you can dial the number 112 to connect to an ambulance or the police. Spanish hospitals do not deny you treatment based on your civil status. Keep in mind when calling 112, you will be talking with a Spanish or possibly Catalan-speaking person, and their English may be very limited. You are in a Spanish-speaking country.

The best hospitals in Spain are in the major cities, as that is where the greatest population resides. Small towns and villages will not have private centers, but you can still access the public system with your private healthcare insurance plans.

Private insurance plans generally have a monthly fee of €100 – €200 per month. It provides more coverage to the patient and in-depth packages that include purchasing prescriptions as well.

Health Insurance For Tourists

If you are a tourist, you may be eligible for a temporary European Health insurance card (EHIC). This card makes you eligible for the state-funded healthcare system. Moreover, anyone staying in Spain for under three months should at a minimum have traveler’s insurance.

16 thoughts on “Healthcare In Spain For Expats”

  1. Spain’s Healthcare System is indeed among the best in the world. But of course, how could I compare this with the healthcare from other countries especially to third world countries. But I am actually amazed at how helpful it is especially to expats. This is very informative especially to migrate from my country. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing this, I have a background in healthcare administration and I love to learn how other countries run their healthcare system.

  3. Today’s healthcare plan and system is the number one priority especially to special cases. Thank you for sharing good information about this topic particularly in this country Spain.

  4. I didn’t know that the Spanish healthcare system is world-renowned. I actually think that most European systems are quite good – at least here in Germany, I’m very happy with the way things are.

  5. The hallmark of the best country in the world is their superb healthcare system. Spain is one of those who care for their citizens by providing free hospitalization. Plus they also have health plans for expat. So hospitalizatin in Spain will never be a problem.

  6. It’s good to know that Spain has a very good healthcare system in place. During the pandemic, the importance of a good healthcare system and having a good healthcare plan has been magnified more than ever.


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