Spain is a western European country that consists of the Peninsular Spain, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It also has two archipelagos and two separate autonomous cities in Northern Africa.
The Spanish territories also include the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands on the African Coast.
The Spanish healthcare system
The National Health Service of Spain has a wide network of hospitals and health centres located throughout the country. The health centres provide primary healthcare services that include family and GP services, nursing and paediatrics, social workers and physiotherapists. The healthcare centres are, in theory, located within fifteen minutes of a person’s place of residence. Additionally, if circumstances require, it is possible for the medical professionals to go to the patient’s residence.
Medical treatment in Spain
The healthcare system in Spain is considered to be very good. Spanish hospitals are modern and well-equipped. The doctors are also excellent. Although there are some differences in the policies of the Spanish and British health systems, generally speaking, they are quite similar. The biggest difference between the two is the role of the nurse. Spanish nurses are efficient and well-trained but they do not perform the way British nurses do; feeding and personal care in Spain are normally taken care of by the family of the patient.
If you plan on living in Spain, keep in mind that most of the medical staff do not speak English. However, you can always seek a voluntary translation service when you set an appointment with your doctor. It is advisable to make sure that this service is available in the area of Spain that you intend to live.
Medical care in Spain
If you are an expatriate or a visitor coming from another European Member state, you are generally free from hospital and medical care expenses. Having presented your European Health Card (EHC), you will be attended to by a general practitioner at your local centre. If you are not able to make it to your local health centre, the general practitioner will pay you a visit. If the situation requires you to see a specialist or be admitted to a hospital, the general practitioner will give you a referral or a medical certificate. Most hospitals in Spain also have Accident and Emergency departments.
What does the EHC do?
With your EHC, you can receive similar healthcare to that of a Spanish citizen. Expiration dates are indicated on the EHC and they are not valid in Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. Private hospitals and some general practitioners in Spain will not honour an EHC. The EHC is available from relevant healthcare organizations in your country of origin.
What Health forms are necessary?
During your stay in Spain, if there is a need for a specific treatment, e.g. haemodialysis, you are required to fill out an E-112 form. You will also need authorization from an appropriate institution from your home country. Dental treatment is not generally covered in Spain, with the exception of emergency extractions.
If you happen to forget your EHC card, it is your responsibility to pay for you pharmaceutical, medical and hospital bills in advance. By providing your receipts, you can seek a reimbursement from the appropriate healthcare organization in your own country.
Bear in mind that your EHC is not applicable if you travel to Spain for the sole purpose of seeking medical treatments. This also applies to other EU participating countries.
Non European Union citizens
Spain has some form of a bilateral agreement with counties such as Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil and Andorra, and these citizens can also avail of free hospitalization and medical care in cases of medical emergencies or accidents. You simply have to present the corresponding health certificate from your country of origin. In the event that you do not have the certificate with you, simply pay for the doctors, the hospitalization, and the medicines upfront. Ask your healthcare service or insurance provider to fully refund your expenses. Just be sure to present the necessary receipts.