For all those hoping to move to Spain past middle age, then access to healthcare poses a big part of the equation. The pandemic has only increased the importance of having good-quality healthcare nearby, and it is fortuitous for all those in love with the Spanish lifestyle, that the country’s healthcare is ranked amongst the best in the world.
But what has changed since Brexit? First up, the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) can still be used in Spain for temporary stays if you have one that has not expired yet. The EHIC currently entitles you to state-provided medical treatment if you fall ill or have an accident whilst travelling in Spain.
If your EHIC has expired (or is about to), you should apply for its replacement - the new UK GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card). It will cover chronic or existing illnesses and routine maternity care as well as emergencies. The GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance.
UK nationals who were resident in the EU before the end of 2020 will be able to continue using their EU-issued EHIC card when travelling within the EU.
If you are living in Spain - or spending more than 90 days there, which now necessitates a visa - the situation is different, depending on your age/circumstances.
You will need to take out private medical insurance for at least the first year you are there if you are under-65. For those who go over to Spain to work (with a work permit visa) and start paying directly into the public health insurance scheme (Convenio Especial) after a year of being on the padron (registered at local town hall) they can access Spanish state healthcare.
You should register at your local health centre with your social security number and residency permit. You can get a social security number from your local National Social Security Institute (TGSS) office in Spain. Your dependants register separately. Once you’ve registered, you’ll get a health insurance card that you take with you when you visit a doctor.
If you are going to be residing in Spain on a Non-Lucrative Visa - and thus not permitted to work in Spain - then you will need to keep up the private medical cover until you are over 65. But you can apply to join the public health insurance scheme (Convenio Especial) after you have been registered with the padron for a year. You pay a monthly fee to join the scheme, which gives you access to the Spanish health system.
For those that take up the Golden Visa, private medical insurance is also required - although they can also apply to join the Convenio after being on the padron a year.
Over-65’s moving to Spain will continue to enjoy the same access to Spanish state healthcare as Spanish citizens, via the UK-issued S1. This is a healthcare entitlement certificate available to those in receipt of a UK state pension.
Note that not all healthcare is free of charge (even to the Spanish) and a proportion of prescription charges is payable, and there are charges for certain specialist medical procedures. You may still need additional private insurance coverage - around 19% of the Spanish population have some form of private healthcare coverage.
Private health insurance in Spain usually costs between €50-200 a month, depending on the coverage plan. Do your research and shop around.
An important point to note if you are undecided about moving to Spain: post-Brexit the over-65s will not retain right to access the NHS if they return to the UK, as they did until the end of 2020.
But please note that all of the above is general not specific advice, and information is subject to change during 2021.
Find out more on the UK government website.
Find out more about moving to Spain after Brexit:
- Watch: Moving to Spain post-Brexit
- Key things you should know about moving to Spain post-Brexit
- Find out more about Non-Lucrative visas
- How to obtain a Golden Visa in Spain
- Case study: Retirees moving to Spain after Brexit
- Case study: A couple buying in Spain with semi-retirement on the horizon post-Brexit