Looking after your health in Spain

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When relocating to Spain, most people think of all the benefits such as great weather and a better lifestyle, we don’t like to think about bad health when moving to the Costa del Sol. However, if you rent long term in Spain or are planning to, it’s important to know what’s what when it comes to healthcare.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Only valid if you are still a UK resident, this is not valid if you are staying in Spain long term, but its good to know about for when friends and family come over to visit. The EHIC allows you to get state provided healthcare in all EU countries, either for free or at a discounted rate. If your friends and family are coming over from the UK, its important they apply for an EHIC before they come just in case of accidents or illness. They are free of charge and are valid for 5 years. Although you may find not everything will be free like the NHS, you should receive the same treatment as a resident, and you will save a lot of money when carrying this card. Some doctor clinics will offer private and state healthcare, so make sure you clarify the type of treatment you need when arriving, and present your card to avoid a nasty bill. The EHIC is not to be used instead of private health insurance, and you should still obtain private travel insurance to cover anything the EHIC does not.

Doctors and Hospitals

It could cost up to 200 Euros just to be seen by a private doctor in some areas so be sure to check when finding a clinic that they provide state healthcare before turning up. In some parts of the country, you may have to travel some distance to find a state funded clinic so please be aware that doctors and hospitals may have separate surgery times for private patients, and those treated under the state system. You will need a doctors referral for any hospital treatment except for emergencies, and only public hospitals will offer treatment free of charge.


Any medicines prescribed by a health practitioner can be obtained from any pharmacy (farmacia), and you will be charged up to 40% of the cost unless you are a UK or EEA pensioner, however you must to be able to prove that you are a state pensioner when collecting your medicine. If you are told by the hospital that you require medicines after you are discharged, you will need to take the medical report to a doctor who can then give you a prescription. This is because doctors in public hospitals will prescribe medicines on the report but do not issue official prescriptions.

Air Ambulance service

On the Costa del Sol, many people live in the mountains and other serene, beautiful places that can take a while to reach by road. In an emergency, the situation can soon become very stressful if you think it could be another hour before you reach a clinic. Luckily Helicopteros Sanitarios offer a great service which brings doctors to the comfort of your own home, plus they can get you to a hospital quickly if needed. Many people who rent long term on the Costa del Sol will become a member of the Helicopteros Sanitarios so they have peace of mind that wherever they are in Andalucía, they have professional, English speaking healthcare whenever they need it.

So now you can get on with settling into Spain without worrying about the stresses of healthcare in a foreign country. This can make all the difference to settling in here if you know you and your family are being looked after and you will know what to do, and where to go if anything does happen during your stay in Spain.

Useful numbers

Emergencies – 112

EHIC Application line – 0845 606 2030

EHIC Enquiry line – 0845 605 0707

Helicopteros Sanitarios – (+34) 952 81 67 67

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