If you’re an expat planning to move to Spain, one of the most important things you need to look at is Spain’s healthcare system. What’s the system like? How much will it cost? What do you need to do to get set up? This article will provide a comprehensive guide to healthcare in Spain for expats.
Types of healthcare systems in Spain
Spain has a diverse healthcare system that includes both public and private options.
Public healthcare system
The Spanish public healthcare system is one of the best in the world. The national health system is praised for its high quality, efficiency, and accessibility. It provides free or low-cost healthcare to all citizens, regardless of income. The system is funded mainly by taxes, and the Ministry of Health oversees it. Healthcare facilities are typically clean and well-equipped and wait times are usually short.
Spanish doctors are highly trained, and they often speak multiple languages. In addition, Spain has several world-class hospitals, making it a popular destination for medical tourism. The public healthcare system in Spain is awe-inspiring, and it is an essential part of the country’s quality of life.
Some healthcare costs are not covered under public medical insurance in Spain. For example, specific medicine, dental care, and cosmetic surgery are not included. In addition, some services may have a co-pay, but these are typically small expenses.
Private healthcare system
Private healthcare is also available in Spain; you can get treatment from a private doctor or hospital. Although private healthcare is not free, certain private hospitals or care facilities in Spain offer higher quality and more attention than public ones. They have more modern and better equipped than public hospitals, and they typically have shorter wait times.
Around 15% of the population in Spain has private healthcare, which is lower than the average in developed countries. This is because the public healthcare system is so good that many people don’t feel the need to pay for private healthcare.
Cost of Healthcare in Spain
The cost of healthcare in Spain is relatively low compared to other developed countries. The government subsidizes a large portion of the cost of healthcare, and this keeps the overall cost down. In addition, many private healthcare providers offer discounts to expats.
Public health insurance cost
You will need to pay social security contributions to access public health insurance. These are deducted from your salary if you are employed, or you can pay them yourself if you are self-employed. The amount you will need to pay depends on your income, but it is typically around 60-100 euros per month.
The autonomous regions set the number of social security contributions to healthcare. The social security you need to pay depends on the employed and self-employed income. If you don’t have a job, you don’t pay health insurance.
Private health insurance cost
Private health insurance is not mandatory in Spain, but you can choose it if you want extra private care. The cost of private health insurance depends on the provider and the type of plan you choose. Plans can range from around 30 euros per month for a basic policy to 200 euros or more per month for a comprehensive policy.
It is important to note that if you have private health insurance, you will still need to pay the social security contributions mentioned for public health insurance in Spain. This is because private health insurance only covers certain services, and the public health system covers the rest.
Options for private insurance companies include:
Healthcare in Spain for Expats
Many expats choose to move to Spain for its warm weather and Mediterranean lifestyle. But what about healthcare? Can foreigners get the same level of care as Spanish citizens? In short, yes. The Spanish healthcare system is known for being both high-quality and affordable, and expats are entitled to the same level of care as Spanish nationals.
You will need to register with the local healthcare system / social security system (Seguridad social) to access the Spanish healthcare system. This can be done at your local town hall, online or at a health centre. Once you have registered, you will be given a European health insurance card (Tarjeta sanitaria Europea) which you can use to access all public healthcare services.
Qualification for public healthcare services
Expats can have access to public healthcare in Spain if they meet any of the following criteria:
- Employed in Spain (expat or not)
- Receive Spanish retirement
- Europeans with a European health card
- Self-employed in Spain (autonomo)
- Residence permits are registered with the town hall
- A student enrolled in a Spanish university
- Students under 26 and from an EU
- Certain expats with universal healthcare
- Pregnant women and mothers with children
- Divorcees who used to hold healthcare from partners
- Europeans with a European health card
You will not be eligible for free medical treatment under the Spanish public health system if you are not a pensioner, worker, or legally residing in Spain.
Private insurance for residency
Specific visa requirements such as the (non-lucrative visa) or the (retirement visa) require that you have private medical insurance to obtain your Spanish residency permit.
Health Centres and health clinics in Spain
Primary healthcare in Spain is provided by General practitioners and healthcare centres known as centro de salud (CS) and centro de atención primaria (CP). The health centres are situated all across the region with a number of multi-specialities teams, including GP, paediatricians, nurse gynaecologist physiotherapist.
A list of the nearest health centres to your location can be found on the website of your autonomous region. For example, in Andalusia, you can find a list of all healthcare centres here and via the following links:
Dental care in Spain
Typically dental care is also accessible in Spain. However, it takes a couple of months to get an appointment, and therefore Spanish residents typically choose private dental care, which is quicker.
For those on a budget, there are still many public dental clinics. Just make sure to make an appointment in advance.
A word from SpainDesk
The Spanish Healthcare system is one of the best globally, and health insurance in Spain is typically not needed since healthcare services are public and free for residents. However, there are some cases where you will need to have private insurance to obtain your residency permit.
Disclaimer: Information on this page may be incomplete or outdated. Under no circumstances should the information listed be considered professional legal or financial advice. We highly recommend seeking guidance from a legal or financial expert if you lack extensive knowledge or experience dealing with any of the procedures outlined in these articles.