Healthcare in Spain

Spanish Healthcare consists of both private and public healthcare, with some hospitals (hospitales) and healthcare centres (centros de salud) offering both private (privado) and state healthcare services (asistencia sanitaria pública). You don’t need to have private health insurance to get medical treatment in Spain but it usually allows you to get faster treatment for non-emergency procedures.
The public healthcare system in Spain is among the best in Europe with well-equipped hospitals and well-trained personnel.  However, waiting times are long and very few medical professionals speak fluent English.

Health Coverage

If you are a citizen of Spain, you must have medical coverage that is valid in Barcelona (whether Social Security coverage, a private health insurance policy,etc.).

Tarjeta sanitaria europea

If you are a citizen of a Member State of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland and entitled to coverage under the social security system of your country, then you can apply to the European health Insurance Card (EHIC), which can be obtained from the public health authorities of your home country. While the European Health Insurance Card gives EU citizens access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in Spain, the EHIC is NOT an alternative to travel insurance. It does cover NEITHER accidents NOR any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country or lost/stolen property. Moreover, the EHIC does NOT cover your costs if you are traveling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment.

If you are a citizen of a country outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland, then you must find out whether there exists a mutual health provision agreement between the Social Security system of your country and Spain (this is the case of a number of Latin American countries). If such an agreement exists, you can obtain a document from the relevant authorities in your country entitling you to free medical coverage in Spain.

If you do not fall into any of the above categories or cannot give proof of the document issued by the relevant national authority of your country, then prior to departure, you must take out private medical insurance to cover your whole stay in Spain.

All international students, including Erasmus, are required to have full coverage of eventual risks during their stay in Spain.

Public Health System

Barcelona has a wide range of health centers and hospitals. The public health system provides free universal access, while ensuring good quality care levels:Catsalut

  • Centros de Atención Primaria – CAP (Primary Care Centers). This is the first place you should go when you have a health problem. They offer health and social care. You must be a TSE cardholder in order to access to their services for free. Barcelona has a comprehensive network of CAPs. To find the CAP closer to your place of residence you can visit the City Hall’s website.
  • Public Hospitals. You should go to a Hospital only in case of an emergency. If you face a common health problem you should go first to your nearest CAP. If the CAP health staff considers that it is necessary they will refer you to the Hospital. To access to their services for free, it is also necessary to be a EHIC cardholder.
    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.

In Barcelona, there are also private hospitals and clinics. If you have acquired private health insurance, check the documentation to find out which health centers or hospitals you are assigned to.

For more information about the medical and health care, see health care section of the City Hall’s website.

Private Health Insurance in Spain

If you require additional health services, Spanish private health insurance companies offer a range of packages which cater specifically to your age, health condition and other circumstances. As ever, it’s important to thoroughly research your options and seek as much advice as possible before committing to a specific health plan. Foreigners may like to check if their package provides the same protection in Spain as it does in their country of origin.

While the quality of Spain’s public healthcare is of a high standard, some residents do opt for private healthcare in Spain to avoid the sometimes lengthy waiting times associated with the public service. This is an important factor to consider when weighing up the private care avenue, particularly if you have a medical history which suggests you will require regular treatment. If this is the case, then cutting down on waiting times may be a priority for you.

A private health insurance plan can also enable you to select a doctor with a strong grasp of English, which may be of particular importance to those who expect to be in regular contact with their GP. Lists of English speaking doctors are often available from tourist offices and embassies.

Families may also want to explore various family insurance packages in order to get the best possible value for money, and some insurance firms also provide additional cover, such as 100 percent dental cover.

EU nationals who travel frequently outside of the EU may also consider private health insurance, as the EHIC card only covers travel within the EU.

You can compare private health insurance providers in Spain using online tools: and are just two examples.

Visiting The Dentist in Spain

Dental care in Spain is not covered by the Spanish healthcare system unless in an emergency. You must either pay for dental treatment unless you have private health insurance.

Turó Park Medical Center

The Turó Park Medical Center is a private clinic located in Barcelona’s Zona Alta district and offers an international team of top doctors in Barcelona. TPMC offer a range of specialist medical care including general medicine, pediatrics, dermatology, speech therapy, travel vaccinations, ENT consultancy, orthodontics, cardiology, gynecology, blood tests, dentistry and cosmetic surgery.
TPMC also work with leading insurance companies such as Sanitas, Adeslas, Mapfre, Axa, Asisa and Cigna Global where up to 90% reimbursement is possible.

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