Health Insurance - FAQ

Health care in Spain: What are my options?

Spain has both public and private health care system. The provision of Social Security health care is a benefit presently enjoyed by both Spanish and foreign nationals who are employed and self-employed, as they all make the equivalent contribution to the Spanish Social Security system. Public health care includes the provision of medical and pharmaceutical essential services. As well as these citizens, their dependent family members have the same right to public health care.

Am I entitled to Public Health Care as a foreign national?

The public health care system is free for anyone living and working in Spain. As an expatriate you are eligible to free healthcare if you meet any one of the following conditions:

If you do not qualify for state healthcare, you must arrange private health care or pay the full amount of medical costs on your own, which can be quite expensive. It is advisable to not take that chance and get your health insurance as soon as you get into Spain.

For UK nationals: EHIC - Will The Card Still Be Valid Post-Brexit?

It has now been confirmed that from January 1, 2021, the EHIC will only be applicable for specific people, which are those holding an S1, students and frontier workers. It is also important to note that the EHIC only covers you for emergency medical treatment. It does not offer the same level of protection as travel insurance which also covers you for things such as flight delays, loss of baggage and repatriation.

I work in Spain. Does my family have the right to Public healthcare?

Yes, family members of an expat who is working legally in Spain have the right to healthcare, if they are authorised to live and actually live in Spain.

This condition is applicable to the worker’s spouse or life partner, and to descendants of 26 years of age or under, or of any age if disabled, if they are dependent on and live with the worker.

I am legible for Public Healthcare, how do I register?

Register at your local health centre with your social security number. You can get a social security number from your local National Social Security Institute (TGSS) office in Spain. Your children/dependants need to sign up independently.

Once you have signed up, you will obtain a health insurance card. Take it with you whenever you visit a doctor or if you need to purchase medicines in a pharmacy.

I am a UK national and my company is located in the UK, but is sending me temporarily to Spain. Do I have the right to healthcare in Spain?

Yes, the Withdrawal Agreement guarantees that Community regulations will continue to apply. A company may send an employee to another country while maintaining social insurance contributions in the country of origin.

Therefore, a seconded employee may work temporarily in an EU country and continue affiliated to the British social security system for a period of two years, during which time their social security rights, including medical insurance, remain unchanged.

I am a UK national and travel every day to work in Spain from Gibraltar. Will I have the right to healthcare?

Yes, you retain your right.

I am a UK pensioner living in Spain, will my admission to public healthcare be affected following Brexit?

Your right to healthcare will not be affected, the Community Regulations will continue to apply.

If I am a permanent resident

If you are living in Spain or move there permanently before 31st December 2020, you will have healthcare rights in Spain as you do now, provided you remain legally resident. If you have been a resident in Spain for five years or more, you can apply for permanent residency. This will provide you right to use the public healthcare on the same basis as a Spanish citizen.

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Spain and receive a UK State pension (through an S1 form).

If I am not a permanent resident and I am not working

You can apply to join the public health insurance system. This is called the “Convenio Especial”. You pay a monthly fee to enter the program, which provides you access to the Spanish public health system. The safest and cheapest option is to get a private health insurance.

If the UK pays for your healthcare, for example through an S1, you cannot join the Convenio Especial.

If I live less than a year in Spain

If you have lived in Spain for less than one year and cannot get healthcare cover, you’ll need to buy private health insurance. Anybody aged over 18 years old can purchase health insurance.

When is required a private health insurance?

The regulations state that foreign residents must necessarily purchase health insurance with an insurer that operates in Spain to obtain the residence card in Spain or a visa.

What are the advantages of having health insurance?

Private health insurance allows you to have peace of mind. Your health care needs will be taken care of in an timely and appropriate way and you will be protected against unexpected incidents. It includes:

  • Broad medical network: Access to a enormous range of GPs and specialists.
  • Quick care and diagnoses: You can go directly to a specialist without having to obtain a referral from a GP first, which is the protocol in public healthcare. You save time which means that you receive your diagnosis and treatment as fast as possible.
  • Free choice of doctor: you choose the professional that you want to use.
  • Shorter waiting lists: Private clinics and hospitals have less pressure and so waiting times to see doctors, diagnostic tests or surgery are minimum.
  • Flexible schedules: with private hospitals and clinics you can choose appointments at a time that suits you the best.
  • Second medical opinion: you have the choice to seek a second medical opinion with regard to your treatment.
  • Comfortable hospitalisation, for you and your family: you are provided with a single room when hospitalised and it is easy for a relative to stay with you.
  • Additional options: customize your policy to your personal requirements by choosing from an extensive range of extra cover options.
  • Dental Insurance: not covered by public health system, many of the private plans include dental cover or you can add dental cover to your policy if it is not included.
  • Alternative Medicine: some insurers now offer the option to include alternative medicine treatments, such as acupuncture or homeopathy.
How much costs a private health insurance?

The price of private medical insurance varies according to a number of factors:

  • Age: generally, the larger the age of the insured, the higher the cost. Babies and toddlers also have slightly higher prices as they are more likely to need to use services than slightly older children.
  • Location: The location where you are based in Spain affects the premium charged.
  • The type of coverage: The price also depends on the type of cover that you select. For example, a policy which only covers doctors and diagnostic tests will have smaller premiums than a policy which contains hospital treatment and surgical.
  • Co-payments (also called “excesses”): which you pay each time you use a service. If you choose a policy with co-payments then your premiums will be cheaper than a policy without co-payments.
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