Healthcare in Spain for expats

lucia lagunas reyes - Our Healthcare in Spain for expats lawyer expert

For expats and retirees alike, Spain is a desirable destination. Expats living in Spain will be able to enjoy a diversified natural environment and healthcare in Spain for expats.

They will also have access to a good quality of life, including a healthcare system, as well as a cheap cost of living. As a result, Spain’s healthcare system is regarded as one of the greatest in the world. It has universal coverage and no upfront costs for patients other than a fraction of prescription payments. According to a 2015 World Health Organization poll, Spanish women outlast all other countries save the Japanese (living to 85.5 years). This indicates that they must be doing something right.

As you pick this wonderful Country to work in, here are a few things you should know about its healthcare.

Overview of Spain’s Healthcare System

private healthcare spain

When compared worldwide, Spain’s national healthcare plan ranks high. According to The Healthcare Access and Quality Index, which examined healthcare in 195 nations in 2017, Spain had a 90 out of 100. Placing it eighth in the global rankings.

This might be because, according to Statistic, the government spends an impressive 8.9% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare.

In Spain, there are both public and private healthcare institutions. Indeed, several hospitals (hospitales) and health centers (centros de salud) around the country provide both private (privado) and public (asistencia sanitaria pblica) services. National health care is decentralised in Spain. It is the responsibility of the local authority in each region. Therefore, health services can vary depending on the area.

Spain’s national health care system (el Sistema Nacional de Salud) is supported by Tesorera General de la Seguridad Social (social security payments) (TGSS ). As a result, anybody living and working in Spain has access to free public health care at the point of use. If you are a resident in Spain and pay social security payments, you will be eligible to state health care as an expat (through either employment or self-employment).

You may apply for a health card after you have registered with the Spanish social security system (known as Tarjata Sanitaria Individual or TSI). The TSI must be displayed while seeking medical care in a public institution. Then it entitles you to free doctor and hospital visits, as well as reduced prescription drug costs.

If you are not qualified for state-provided health care, you should consider purchasing private health insurance coverage. This will prevent you from paying high medical bills if you do need treatment.

While El Sistema Nacional de Salud is often regarded as world-class, it is not without flaws like any other national health system across the world.

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The reason is, the healthcare system is decentralized. Then there is a variation in the quality of facilities provided in different parts of Spain. For individuals who use the public system, there may be long lines and personnel shortages.

While many Spaniards still depend on the public health system, those who can afford it are turning to private medical treatment. El Sistema Nacional de Salud does not cover dental care, and the great bulk of dental and eye treatment is provided in the private sector.

Healthcare is a well-known fact in Spain, where it is a fundamental right for all citizens and is provided free of charge. Since all resources are administered and directed by the state, public health services rely on governments and their health programs.

Although everyone, regardless of socioeconomic standing, has access to the Spanish public healthcare system. You may still run across some issues. The biggest problem is the massive waiting lists created. This may lead to patients having to wait months before seeing a specialist or having surgery. Given that the development and maintenance budget is public, there are also infrastructure shortfalls.

Public Healthcare System in Spain

private healthcare spain expats

The nation offers an excellent healthcare system, ensuring complete coverage for its citizens. The public health care system in Spain covers almost all types of medical services.

These services are general medicine, specialized care, family practice, geriatric care, dental care, and a wide range of surgical treatments. The national healthcare agency, known as CDS, caters to the insurance sector and is currently processing almost 13 million insurance claims every month.

The Spanish healthcare system has undergone rapid development over the last 30 years. With the infusion of western European culture and the opening up of the countries borders to various foreign trade routes. The Spanish healthcare system has become much more flexible and effective.

The rapid expansion of the Spanish health care system is an example of how a country can develop better public services when more resources are made available. Today, several hospitals cater to foreigners, which is why the health care system here is also excellent.

When comparing private hospitals in Spain with those of Europe, you will realize that the quality of Spanish healthcare is far better than anywhere else in Europe.

Many expats planning to visit Spain to use local Spanish language facilities, which will make their transition easy and comfortable in private hospitals. Many foreigners who have made it to Spain or other Spanish speaking countries prefer the local language to communicate with the locals. The high quality of the healthcare available in Spain compared to Europe is testimony enough to this fact.

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The Spanish primary healthcare services do not have the provisions that the British and US systems have. However, the provision of adequate healthcare services is improving daily. If you are British you can benefit from free healthcare by registering your S1 in Spain.

The number of hospitals in Spain has grown over the years, as more private clinics now offer medical services to the Spanish people.

The primary function of this public health system is to provide all types of health services. Including the treatment of chronic diseases, maternity care, outpatient care, dental care, family planning, and many other benefits.

The Spanish system also provides for the treatment of drug emergencies and trauma cases. Another essential function of the service is to improve the economic and social conditions and reduce the number of uninsured persons.

The waiting times for every type of treatment have been reduced in Spain due to better infrastructure and better clinical management.

The leading healthcare service provider in Spain is a private insurance company. Many private firms have established their presence in Spain and provide for all types of health insurance services.

These insurance companies have tie-ups with several hospitals across the country. So you can be sure that you are getting the best services available in Spain without any problems.

The private sector has also invested a lot in improving its infrastructure to meet up the standards that the government is setting. If you have decided to switch to Spain and are looking for a suitable healthcare facility.

Then there are various options available for you according to your preference and needs. You can opt for a basic health insurance policy or go for a more comprehensive one depending on your individual needs.

Private healthcare system in Spain

healthcare spain expats

It follows a mixed policy with some aspects of financing coming from taxes. At the same time, some of the expenses are borne by the private sector, state healthcare, and providers of complementary healthcare in Spain for expats.

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The private sector generally contributes to most of the revenues coming into the country. Though they pay social security contributions to keep the welfare state running smoothly.

State education is also accessible at all levels. With nearly all the state schools becoming free in the last 20 years. The same also applies to universities and colleges.

The private health care system in Spain works in a system with comprehensive coverage of all outpatient hospital stays and most inpatient care. It also caters for healthcare in Spain for expats.

However, Spain is unique because there are no universal public healthcare services, and the costs of most of the procedures and operations are borne only by private providers.

Therefore, you must ensure that you take care of all the necessary vaccinations and check-ups before traveling to Spain. You also need to make sure you have all the required prescription drugs for medical purposes.

Most private providers are reliable, but you can get better value for money and save a lot of time if you opt for Spanish health insurance, which is tailored to the unique circumstances of Spain. To select a suitable health insurance policy in Spain, you can contact a specialized private health insurance company.

The private one is provided by almost half of the hospitals, and 30% of the physicians practicing in private practices are self-employed. Spain is known for the excellent quality of its public healthcare. In this regard.

Private health care insurance in private clinics and hospitals is rarely utilized to avoid the lengthy waiting lists at public institutions. In reality, only 10 percent of the general population decide to take out non-mandatory private health care insurance. Although most private facilities contract some public services.

Who is eligible for the healthcare?

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The healthcare system in Spain is a significant public service offering social services to its citizens. Spanish speaking people are protected by one of the most generous welfare systems in Western Europe.

This means that each citizen has access to a social security number (SSN). Anyone over 18 who is a citizen of Spain and has paid the relevant taxes can receive certain benefits, including free medical care.

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The social security system in Spain also has some of the best dental care available anywhere globally. Because most hospitals in Spain are private, they are often cheaper than in the UK and other European countries. Spain strives to offer globality health.

This is the primary healthcare that caters for a large number of ethnic minority groups. One of the most significant minorities within Spain is the Roman Catholic Church, which provides free health care for its followers.

The Roman Catholics and the majority of the population follow the Roman Catholic Church dogma regarding belief and religion. This means that several different types of healthcare in Spain for expats are provided for those followers of this religious faith.

There is also a state-funded secondary health care system, which is better funded than the private one.

Anyone working or residing in Spain may use both the public and private healthcare systems, which are both free and funded by taxation and social security contributions.

In Spain, the EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens who attain retirement age are eligible for free healthcare. If you reside in another EU nation, you’ll need a document of right to healthcare to utilize it.

EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens living in Spain temporarily, on the other hand, may utilize their European health insurance card, which entitles them to the same medical care as a Spanish person. On the other hand, third-country nationals must provide evidence of private health insurance in Spain before being granted a visa. Medical insurance is required for non lucrative visa, golden visas or any Spanish visa.

Spain’s public healthcare system is supported by payments to the country’s social security funds based on the government-set minimum and maximum rates.

Employers pay the equivalent of 23.6 percent of an employee’s wages to the social security system, while general workers’ pay 4.7 percent of their yearly income (28.3 percent).

As a result, self-employed employees pay between 26.5 percent and 29.3 percent of their income in taxes.

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Furthermore, Spain has bilateral agreements with Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, Tunisia, and Andorra to provide access to government hospitalization and medical treatment to its people in medical crises or accidents.

Risks that you should be aware of while in Spain

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For the most part, Spain is a secure and trouble-free destination for visitors, but its roads are among Europe’s most dangerous. Drunk driving and a widespread disregard for traffic laws have resulted in the second most significant number of road fatalities in Europe.

While driving in Spain, specifically when crossing roads in big cities like Madrid, which has a severe traffic issue, you need to be cautious.

Travel to Spain is connected with very few health hazards. Sunburn and heat stroke are the most typical risks that tourists may encounter. However, these may be controlled and avoided by wearing proper sun protection. By staying hydrated, and remaining in the shade during peak solar hours (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

It’s also worth noting that the UK Health Protection Agency considers Spain to be an “intermediate risk” zone. This is because of polluted water, owing to the country’s tourism sector and many swimming pools. Managed swimming pools may serve as breeding grounds for germs that cause diarrhea, vomiting, and infections of the ears, eyes, skin, and respiratory system.

Due to the high frequency of measles outbreaks in Spain, MMR vaccination is recommended. Tickborne Encephalitis (TBE), which is only found in wooded regions, and Leishmaniasis, carried by bug bites, are two more ailments linked to Spain and the Mediterranean in general. As is the case in any warm region, taking precautions against bug bites is prudent.

In April 2016, an Enterovirus epidemic occurred in Catalonia. Seventy-three children have been afflicted. However, most cases have resolved, and the virus has been contained to Catalonia as of May 2016.

Cost health insurance in Spain

Spain spends roughly 10% of its GDP on public health, more than neighboring European nations.

Hospitals and health services are of high quality, and some facilities provide both public and private treatment.

For most expats, the high cost of healthcare in Spain is something they have no control over, as this country is an expensive nation to live in. However, if you are fortunate enough to live in Spain, or you are in the process of relocating to Spain, you should make provisions for healthcare help for your family.

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As the health care sector in Spain is growing, you will likely find that there is a high demand for qualified healthcare professionals.

As healthcare in Spain for expats, it may be challenging to decide which healthcare provider will meet your needs best. You need to find a provider who will take your medical history and then compile a custom plan just for you.

A specialized healthcare manager will be assigned to your case to help you manage the transition to the new environment. These professionals will help administer all medical procedures. Then they will ensure that your treatment meets your healthcare needs throughout your stay in Spain.

The cost of healthcare in Spain for expats varies depending on your specific case. For instance, a standard medical procedure such as a dental implant can efficiently run into thousands of dollars.

Even something as simple as prescription medication can cost nearly a hundred dollars. Your healthcare provider can help you understand the details of the services rendered for your particular case. Then tailor an appropriate treatment plan for your specific budget.

Expats will likely be able to find more health care options if they reside in a major city. Major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Costa Rica, and Mexico City offer plenty of healthcare and medical tourism opportunities.

However, if expats are moving to Spain’s smaller cities, they’ll have to face the challenge of finding low-cost healthcare. This challenge will be huge if they’ll be settling in a rural area without many medical amenities. , it is possible to find good healthcare service in these rural areas, provided you know where to look.

Expatriates living in Spain will appreciate the opportunities available to them for healthcare assistance. In addition to health insurance, they can apply for financial aid from the Spanish embassy or consulate in their country of origin.

Financial assistance can also come in the form of tax breaks, depending on their situation. These are just a few of the many available opportunities to those looking to live and work abroad. As you explore the world of new horizons and options, you’ll undoubtedly come across opportunities to make your healthcare costs more affordable.

Health Insurance in Spain

While Spanish residents must have health insurance valid only for Barcelona, depending upon your country of citizenship, your health insurance in Spain could be very different.

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That’s why you need to get the right Spain health insurance for foreigners before you start your stay in Spain. Health care in Spain is among the cheapest and best available, and finding a health plan that will provide you with adequate coverage is easy. Healthcare in Spain comes in two categories:

Local and International Insurance


If you want to stay in Spain and not travel across Europe for more than three months at a time, basic coverage from any of the major insurers should suffice. In most cases, local health insurance policies will cover the following:

• Hospitalization

• Surgical procedures

• Dental care in an emergency

• Fees for general consultations

• Treatment for cancer.

You may tailor your plan to include things like physiotherapy, pharmaceutical costs, and mental help, among other things. Some local policies will cover you for up to three months if you go overseas. You may also be limited in the number of countries you may visit.

An EHIC card entitles EU citizens to access discounted or free healthcare for the first three months of their stay in an EU nation. You should always remember that healthcare only covers required treatments. Medical issues that do not need urgent treatment may be subject to additional expenses.

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The several types of local cover categories are outlined

First, there’s a long list of physicians, experts, medical facilities, and hospitals in the first category. Present your card to the authorized facility to establish that you have premium insurance. After that, the invoice will be sent straight to your insurance provider.

Specific treatments and procedures may need prior authorization, so always double-check! This information may be found in the fine print of your policy or by visiting the website or calling the hotline.

Besides the experts on the list, the policyholder can seek any healthcare professional not on the list (often includes inside and outside Spain). Amounts up to 90% of the invoice will be repaid. Again, you should contact your insurance before beginning any therapies since clearance will be required.

International health insurance in Spain

Complete international health insurance in Spain for expats plan is advised if you will be traveling between countries regularly and spending lengthy amounts of time abroad.

In general, international projects include a wide variety of systems, including injury treatment and emergency evacuation.

They will also cover the fundamentals of hospital care, surgery, consultation costs, and dental treatment, among other things. Most providers also offer a package for healthcare for retired expats in Spain.

It’s worth mentioning that if you’re going to a less developed country where medical treatment is scarce, it’s a good idea to have travel insurance covering medical evacuation. You will be moved to more modern medical facilities if you have this form of insurance.

Although private medical insurance is not required for expatriates migrating to Spain to live there either on a long or short term, you may decide to opt for it to get faster care at private clinics.

Take notice of the following:

• Compare policies regularly. Enter your specifications and let the internet do the rest. Rastreator and Acierto are two popular health insurance comparison websites. Note: If they don’t convert to English immediately, right-click and choose translate. Alternatively, get a quotation from one of Expat Focus’s partners.

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• The minimum contract length is usually 12 months, and it will be automatically renewed unless you cancel a month before it expires.

• If you speak English and cannot understand Spanish, you can get your health insurance in Spain for expats policy documentation translated into English.

• Paying a significant excess may help you save a lot of money on your insurance costs. Paying half of the annual fee up front and the rest in monthly installments may also help you save money.

• Depending on your chosen expat medical insurance Spain plan, it’s common for the firm to pay you Eur 50-70 every day you’re in the hospital.

Expats buy private health insurance in Spain for expats for a variety of reasons, including:

• To cater for any medical expenses for healthcare for retired expats in Spain

• Significantly shorter non-emergency treatment wait times.

• In general, hospital treatment is superior in terms of food and comfort.

• Doctors, nurses, and surgeons who are multilingual.

• Professionalism of the highest kind.

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Dental coverage is often provided.

Conclusion about healthcare in Spain

When you are looking for an insurance company in Spain for your healthcare, you should keep in mind a couple of things. Since this is a specialty area, you should make sure that the healthcare in Spain for expats that you look into is offering the services you need as a typical member of their workforce. Also, if they are not offering the kind of coverage that you need, it might be time to switch your insurance provider.

If you already have anything in place, double-check that you know what medical care you’re insured for in your new nation. If you don’t have anything in place already, you can contact My Spain Visa for guidance. Our business is to help you settle much more straightforward and have the best experiences that Spain has to offer even more than the healthcare in Spain for expats.

10 thoughts on “Healthcare in Spain for expats

  1. Peter |

    We are a retired couple who need to obtain a private insurance for the Spanish residency, can you help us to obtain in this process?

    1. My Spain Visa |

      Yes, we can help you with insurance and visa.

  2. Tim Wetherall |

    I am thinking of moving to Spain from the UK and I wanted to know if obtaining the non-lucrative visa and I have several questions:

    -Do expatriates have free health care in Spain?
    -I have an EHIC card is this all I need or do I need health insurance also?
    -If so How much would it cost me for health insurance to live in Spain? I am 52 years old, I do have medical conditions.
    Thanks, Tim

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to answer your questions.


  3. Traci Starkweather |

    How long does it take for American expats in Spain to get on the national health plan please? And, will it cover preexisting conditions?

    Thank you so much! I learned a lot from your article

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will explain about health insurance in Spain.


  4. Larry |

    If I have a house in Spain, worth say 250,000 Euro, and rent it out on occasion, and thus pay tax on the rental.
    Does this qualify me for (free) Spanish Healthcare?

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to explain about the healthcare in Spain for Expats.


  5. Ahmad Itani |

    If i am non EU student in spain . AndI have Diabetes type 1 so i need insulin and strips. Do i automatically get 90 discount on these drugs. Or should I do insurance or there insurance companies that covers all these

    1. Anna |

      Hi Ahmad,

      We work with several insurance companies specialised in expats that will be able to help you with your problem, one of our agents will contact you to advise you on the best medical insurance in Spain.


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