Accessing Healthcare in Spain

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Getting good medical care is often a concern for people moving over to Spain for the first time and the well-publicised problems with the European Health Card not being accepted have made people worry even more about getting the help they need.

If you’re renting long term on the Costa del Sol there’s no need to panic, there are a number of different options that you can choose.

Private medical insurance

This gives you access to English-speaking medical professionals, shorter waiting times and better facilities for a small monthly fee. This is the best option if you’re living on the Costa del Sol long term and want access to care in English.

Medical support

There are companies such as Helicopteros Sanitarios who offer a bridge between the public system for expats who don’t use healthcare services much, but want someone to turn to in an emergency. For a yearly fee you can call out their team of doctors to your home if you’re unwell, they can get an ambulance or even an air ambulance to take you to hospital and provide a clinic with subsidised tests. Once you’re at the hospital you’re in the hands of the Spanish national system, but the fast response ambulance and home visits makes it a popular service.

Spanish National Healthcare

The law recently changed for entitlement to Spanish healthcare for non-Spanish nationals and the implications are explained clearly here. The general rule is that if you’re working and either the company you work for or you (if you’re self-employed) are paying the social security payments then you are entitled to free medical care. If you’re not working but your husband, wife or partner is, you can sign up to be their dependent and then you are also covered. Healthcare is delivered in Spanish, but there is a phone translation service available to support you. In our experience the Spanish national healthcare system is good, but as with all other countries waiting times can be long to see specialists or get hospital treatment, once you’re in you tend to be well looked after, but if you don’t speak the language it can be hard.

The best idea is to carefully consider your options to have the right care for you, but get something in place shortly after you arrive so you know you’re covered if you need it.


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