Public health care in Spain is FREELY available for those who are eligible and there are also excellent provisions for private medical HEALTH CARE via insurance companies or paying into the “NHS” style system.
If you are a tourist
- If you are a tourist or non-resident, a registered European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is sufficient for most emergency health situations in Spain. Dental care, other than emergency tooth extraction, is not covered and Private hospitals or doctors will not accept the EHIC.
- An EHIC card will also give you access to a doctor in order to get prescriptions but most medication can be purchased directly from the pharmacy, often at a considerably reduced amount than in the UK.
- The treatment UK residents receive on temporary visits to Spain is equivalent to that received by Spanish nationals, and may vary from that offered in the UK.
The EHIC can be obtained online at www.dh.gov.uk/travellers or by calling 0044 191 203 5555. It is issued free of charge.
- Please note:
Repatriation due to illness is not covered by reciprocal agreements and private insurance is strongly recommended to cover such costs or to provide a choice of clinics or doctors.
If you are working
- You can qualify for free health care in Spain if you or your employer pays your Social Security contributions, as in the UK. Social Security contributions entitle you to full health care coverage plus prescriptions which you have to pay 25% towards.
If you are of pensionable age
- If you are in receipt of a UK State Pension or Long Term Incapacity Benefit and you decide to move to Spain permanently and apply for residencia, you can request an S1 from the International Pension Centre (IPC) in Newcastle. Once registered with the Spanish authorities, the S1 gives you the same medical cover in Spain as a Spanish national under the Spanish state-run health scheme and you also receive free prescriptions.
- You should also be aware that:
Treatment given privately and repatriation costs to the UK are not covered. You may therefore wish to consider whether you want to take out private health insurance. Some social services may not be available.
- In order to register your S1 you will need a certificate of residencia and a certificate of empadronamiento, having obtained your certificates you must take them, along with both copies of your S1, to your local Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social (INSS) office who will retain both copies of your S1 and issue you with accreditation certificate (Documento acreditivo del derecho a la asistencia sanitaria).
- This should be taken to the local Health Care Centre who will register you with a GP and issue you with a plastic medical card (Tarjeta Sanitaria Individualizada Nacional – SIP card) which has to be presented each time you visit the doctors, hospital or collect prescriptions.
- European Health Insurance Cards issued by the UK authorities to you and any dependent family member are no longer valid for use in Spain but you do need it for any visits to other EU countries, including the UK.
- As a tourist, before you travel, you should arrange travel insurance with health cover that is adequate for your destination, as a rule of thumb the level of medical cover should be at least £1million for Europe.
- For residents, if you are under retirement age and not in receipt of an exportable UK benefit then you will not be entitled to free health care in Spain unless you are working on a contract. In this instance it is beneficial to look at taking out private medical insurance and there are a host of companies offering cover.
For residents, if you are under retirement age and not in receipt of an exportable UK benefit then you will not be entitled to free health care in Spain unless you are working on a contract.
In this instance it is beneficial to look at taking out private medical insurance and there are a host of companies offering cover.
- There have been many documented cases where insurance companies have failed to pay out due to undeclared pre-existing conditions so it is imperative that you disclose everything which might affect the cover, such as current or past medical conditions. My own father became seriously ill and needed urgent treatment but the insurance company refused to pay out as his medical notes mentioned a condition that he was not aware that he had so for those with on-going issues it might be worthwhile getting a doctors print out and sending this over to the medical company to make sure that you are truly covered for all eventualities.
- The only downside to private medical insurance is the exclusion of pre-existing illnesses, if you feel private insurance isn’t the right cover for you then you do have the option of paying into the “NHS” style system under the convenio especial.
- If you have been on the empadron for over a year you can sign onto the convenio regardless of whether you are a resident or not, this gives you full access to the healthcare system for 60€ a month, under 65 and 157€ a month for over 65.
- Once the application has been submitted you then need to attend an interview in Alicante so they can ASSESS your eligibility for the scheme.
- One of the benefits of this system is that it doesn’t preclude ongoing illnesses, which private cover does, so you can get treatment for all existing ailments.
- It’s simple to apply for, a couple of forms to complete, an appointment at Alicante then you become fully registered with no waiting period.