The Spanish HealthCare System Explained

Fortunately, Spain has one of the best healthcare systems in the European Union. 
To fulfill this achievement, healthcare in Spain has some characteristics that make it the best out there. You may be wondering, how does healthcare work in Spain? In this article we will talk about the healthcare costs in Spain, and explain why the Spanish healthcare system is one of the bests in Europe. Let’s start!

Table of Contents

Health care in Spain

Through the Spanish Health Care system, residents living in this country are guaranteed to have medical attention, immediately and in well-equipped hospitals and with qualified personal. This is a constitutional right in Spain as citizens have the right to be treated in case of a situation that requires medical assistance.

The healthcare system in Spain counts with hospitals, healthcare centers and another type of installations known as state healthcare services. The whole system works under the National Health System, which at the same time is overseen by the Spanish Ministry of Health, in charge of applying yearly budget and guaranteeing the quality of the health services
Now, the universal coverage and quality of healthcare in Spain is based on contributions, so the system is basically financed by taxes and payments all citizens and residents do every month, being discounted from their total monthly wage.

How does Healthcare Work in Spain?

The healthcare system in Spain is both public and private. Now, more than 90 percent of the Spanish population is integrated in the public health care system, which is free and has the obligation to take care of citizens and non-residents or expats alike, in case they are working and paying contributions in Spain.
But, how is the public healthcare in Spain? Well, public healthcare in Spain can be considered good, but in terms of characteristics the main is this: it is decentralized. This means that even though the general aspects of healthcare are the same for each region, regional authorities regulate budget and resource allocation, and regulate personnel. 
In order to be able to benefit from public healthcare in Spain, residents must live, work and pay taxes in the country, although children, pregnant women, state prisoners and even students under 26 can obtain free medical coverage.

Private healthcare in Spain is a different story, having a more restrictive approach and usually requiring medical insurance for proper treatments

Of course, private healthcare in the country plays a huge rule in terms of attention, since in many circumstances non-residents or expats are not eligible to be treated by public healthcare in Spain, particularly when they are not working or not paying contributions.
A clear case is when tourists do not have an EHIC or European Health Insurance Card, in the circumstance of being expired or when the person did not pay for such right of being treated by public healthcare or other EU country for free. So, private medical insurance must be hired.

Spanish HealthCare for Expats and Foreigners

When it comes to expats and non-residents living in the country, such people can enjoy of free healthcare in all Spain thanks to the public hospitals and centers available in all of the cities. Of course, there are a few conditions to fulfill in order to be treated by the public Spanish healthcare system, respecting expats and non-residents.
In details, healthcare for expats living in Spain is covered by the public branch of the National Spanish Healthcare System, when such people are employed or at least self-employed and meeting with their legal duty of paying contributions and taxes.
In this way, healthcare in Spain for non-residents is completely covered, with the same rights a Spanish citizen would have at the moment of suffering a condition, disease or incidental that may involve medical treatment.
On the other hand, there might be cases in which healthcare for retire expats in Spain is not possible, resulting not eligible due to matter of employment status, legal documentation and more. In this case, private healthcare is another option that non-residents have in Spain to enjoy medical coverage, such as insurance policies and other methods.

Healthcare in Spain for UE citizens

Spain offer free healthcare coverage and treatments for citizens of the different countries that are part of the European Union or EU, for short periods of time. However, in case of doubts or regulations and agreements between countries, non-residents can visit embassies in Spain or in the country of origin for more information.
For example, citizens from countries like Brazil, Andorra, Peru, Ecuador and others have the right to receive immediate and free medical treatment in the case of emergency, when they arrive as tourists.

Healthcare for US citizens and tourists in general

US citizens and tourists from other countries arriving to Spain are able to enjoy of free healthcare, at least for a short period of time or while the trip ends. However, in Spain is mandatory to acquire a private medical insurance, so in the case of an incidental or disease visitors can be treated. This is the way the EHIC card is obtained at the moment of traveling to Spain.

Healthcare Costs

Public Spanish healthcare is for free in many cases, only been charged paperwork if health insurance payments are involved. However, being a decentralized system, healthcare in the country is managed differently by the regions and municipalities, and this means budget and other financial affairs.
So, costs may be involve from one region to the other, with expenditures that have been increasing over time, giving as result growing reliance to the private sector of health in Spain.
In hospitals, average expenses per person every year that receive attention in the country is about 2.000 dollars, a similar figure invested by contributors in taxes and state payments that involve social security payments that give the right to be treated by the Spanish health care, including residents and expats.
So, answering the question on how much does healthcare cost in Spain? It is complex to know, but those residents and immigrants paying social security taxes to the state and working should not be worried.
The thing changes when we talk about private healthcare, including premiums of insurance policies and even direct payments in case of immediate attention in clinics, costing hundreds and thousands of Euros in monthly payments and lump sums.

How to register for Spain Public Healthcare

For residents, non-residents and expats in general living in Spain to enjoy of free public healthcare, they must be registered on the social security office in the Iberian country. Such department in Spain is called Dirección General de la Tesorería Social, and there is one of them in every city of the country.
In this way, residents, expats and also citizens can obtain their social security number and enjoy of different benefits the Spanish country has, being one of them the accessing to the Spanish public healthcare system. Here are the steps and documentation you need to obtain the social security number in Spain:
A valid passport, ID card or driver´s license that demonstrates the identity of the person applying for the social security number.
Residency certificate.
Proof of address registration in the city, town or municipality in Spain.
With the social security number, the next step is to apply for a Health Card or TSI that stands for Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual. With these two requirements a person is entitled to receive medical treatment and aid in any hospital in Spain, even being non-residents or expats for that matter.
A thing that actually helps is to issue work permit and employment details, demonstrating economic activities are being performed in the country and duties and contributions are being made.

Wrapping Up..

In conclusion, the Spanish Healthcare System is one of the best offered in the countries of the EU, with quality and free for those that contribute with duties, being ideal for residents and expats since they do not have any sort of problem at the moment of entering the system or being treated.