Healthcare in Spain for UK Expats

Spain boasts a healthcare system that ranks among the world’s best, offering nearly universal healthcare coverage to its residents. This system is primarily funded by taxpayers through social security. However, for specialised medical services, such as dental care or mental health, private health insurance might be more suitable.

The Structure of the Healthcare System The Spanish healthcare system, known as the National Health System (Sistema Nacional de Salud – SNS), covers just over 99% of the population. This system is organised at both national and regional levels. While the national level is responsible for laws and regulations, the regional level, spread across 17 autonomous regions, manages the local administration of healthcare services. The Spanish Ministry of Health oversees the entire system, formulating policies and managing the national health budget.

Access to Spanish Healthcare Anyone living and working in Spain, including children, pregnant individuals, and students under 26, can access public healthcare. EU/EFTA nationals can use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for free healthcare. However, third-country citizens need travel and healthcare insurance for their visa applications. Undocumented migrants can also access medical care but might have to bear a significant portion of the medication costs.

Costs and Registration The healthcare system in Spain is primarily funded by social security contributions from working residents. Most primary healthcare services are free, but residents might have to pay a portion of prescription charges. To access public healthcare, residents need either an EHIC card or a Spanish health card (tarjeta sanitaria individual – TSI). This card can be obtained at local primary healthcare centres and is essential for accessing public health services.

Private Healthcare While the public healthcare system is robust; many residents opt for private health insurance to supplement their coverage, especially for specialised treatments not covered by the public system. Private health insurance is particularly popular among expats, with around 25% of the population having some form of private coverage.

Healthcare Facilities Spain offers a wide range of healthcare facilities, from primary health centres to specialised clinics. These centres are staffed by multidisciplinary teams, including family doctors, paediatricians, nurses, gynaecologists, and physiotherapists. Additionally, Spain has numerous public and private hospitals. Only public hospitals offer free treatment, so it’s essential to specify the type of service required.

Specialised Healthcare Spain provides specialised healthcare services for children, including free dental care up to the age of 15. The country also has a national vaccination program for children. Mental healthcare is available, but provisions are limited, prompting the government to launch a comprehensive mental health plan. Women’s healthcare, including cancer screenings and reproductive health services, is of a high standard.

Emergency Services In case of emergencies, individuals can call the pan-European emergency number (112), which offers services in multiple languages, including Spanish and English. Other emergency numbers cater to specific needs, such as domestic abuse, drug addiction support, and elderly support.

Alternative Therapies Spain recognises alternative therapies, but practitioners must have full medical qualifications. While public health insurance doesn’t cover these treatments, some private insurance companies offer them as add-ons.

In conclusion, Spain offers a comprehensive healthcare system that caters to the needs of its residents and expats alike. However, understanding the nuances of the system, especially for UK expats, can ensure they make the most of the services available. If you are moving to Spain contact us today for a free no obligation quotation.