Healthcare in Spain - what are the options?

Spanish Healthcare - what are the options?

Mrya Cecilia Azzopardi of Citizens Advice Bureau Spain provides a useful overview of the Spanish healthcare system.

There are multitudinous reasons to relocate to Spain. Top of the list must undoubtedly be the exceptional climate characterized by the four seasons. The warm spring and autumn months, hot summers and mild winters consequently are conducive to good health. Who doesn’t like an active, outdoor lifestyle, never mind that famously healthy Mediterranean diet? There are many people who relocate to Spain because the climate is great for many ailments alone!

The World Health Association has ranked Spain’s healthcare as one of the best. Spain maintains an excellent network of hospitals and health centres throughout the country. Moreover, people considering relocation can be certain of a healthcare system that will entirely provide for their medical requirements.

So where do we stand now as far as British nationals in Spain? The receipt of public healthcare cover for UK state pensioners is certain. Assuming someone has complied with their national insurance contributions, consequently, the UK government will facilitate their inclusion into the Spanish national health system. State pensioners should contact the UK healthcare team for an S1 that warrants that they can register for a social security number and in turn a health card.

Whilst the UK will provide an S1 to cover healthcare in Spain for state pensioners and spouses, accordingly, it is important to be mindful that when the dependent spouse reaches pensionable age, it is imperative that they apply for the S1 in their own right.

Additionally, changes in the UK’s healthcare charging regulations has resulted in that UK state pensioners who live in Spain and visit the UK, will have the same rights to NHS care as those who live there. This function safeguards stability and comforts many who find that they receive the same NHS treatment both in Spain and their home country.

The Spanish Costas, in particular, have a high concentration of British nationals. Some Britons have either set up businesses or are in employment.  This group of personnel and entrepreneurs contribute to the Spanish social security system, which ensures that their families are fully covered for healthcare. The facility to arrange for an EHIC card for travel abroad can also be implemented.

Murcia in Spain

Workers posted to Spain, and family members of someone making UK national insurance contributions should be aware that they may be entitled to the S1 form. Applications should be made in the UK to provide healthcare cover in Spain.

Persons fortunate enough to be self-sufficient and early retirees are another group of people residing in Spain. However, this group must be in possession of healthcare insurance to request residency status. Early retirees are no longer entitled to healthcare provided by the UK government.

Full private healthcare cover can be extremely expensive and accordingly will not cover preexisting conditions. However, there are health insurance options. Throughout the last few years many of the autonomous regions have set up a system for those residing in the country. This insurance –  the Convenio Especial or ‘Special Agreement’ – for those individuals who have no access to public healthcare but have the option to pay into the Spanish system.

This is a great option, in my experience, and this insurance does not penalise any pre-existing conditions. The opt-in pay option is available at a monthly payment of €60. However, the insurance does not cover prescriptions, prosthesis, or the European Health Card.

Holidaymakers should be in possession of a European Insurance Health Card (EHIC). The insurance is imperative and will also serve for the first 90 days medical cover for those relocating.

There are groups of people who are entitled to free healthcare in special circumstances.  Foreigners with unauthorised residence in Spain and visitors with no health insurance, will receive healthcare assistance in the following cases: a) children of age 18 and under have the right to the same unrestricted medical care as a Spanish citizen; b) pregnant women (includes birth and postnatal care); c) emergency treatment is guaranteed for serious illness and accidents until the patient has been medically discharged. The right under the law is only available in public hospitals.

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