For many people having private health insurance in Spain is essential. This is a topic of great importance – after all what is more important than your health?
This page on health insurance in Spain, also commonly known as medical insurance, is designed to help you get the lowest and cheapest quote for your private health and private medical insurance.
Private Health Insurance and Private Medical Care
If you are considering buying/taking out health insurance Spain and you want to find out how much private health insurance in Spain costs then read on and we will give you actual examples so you can see if it is affordable for you.
Many people often ask us: How good is the health care in Spain and how much is health insurance in Spain?
The subject of health insurance in Spain is so important because many people who move to Spain are of an age where they are very likely to need increasing amounts of medical cover and health care.
Many retirees and pensioners are moving to Spain and naturally the first question they ask themselves when considering living in Spain is, what would happen if I get sick or taken ill in Spain?
Medical cover in Spain via the public health service in Spain (National Health Service Spain) is of a good quality but is not as good as that of the private medical system and this is why many people take out private medical insurance in Spain.
The first step is to consider your circumstances and whether you actually need private health insurance in Spain and private health care in Spain. You will also need to work out if you are eligible for free medical care under the Spanish health system.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
This card was previously known as the E111 and was replaced in 2006. The idea is that as a EU citizen you become entitled to state medical care while on short trips to fellow European Union member countries.
The problem has been in some circumstances the interpretation of the rules as to what is covered by emergency and necessary treatment.
Some doctors have treated patients in Spain immediately, while other doctors have given temporary relief in terms of medication and prescriptions until the person can get home from their holiday.
If you are at all concerned then take out travel insurance or private health care rather than relying on your EHIC to cover all emergencies.
If you are visiting Spain on holiday and you are from an EU country you will typically be entitled to free emergency medical treatment.
Having said this you really will need some documentation – in the case of people from the United Kingdom you must get a EHIC card, BEFORE you go.
What is the E-121 Card?
If you are a pensioner or retiree of age 65 or above and you are moving to Spain you need to get a E121 from the Department of Work and Pensions department.
This removes you from the UK system and when you arrive in Spain you should go to the nearest Oficina de Extrajaneros (foreigners office) or police station.
Together with your E121 and passport you will be issued with a certificate allowing you to register for medical care under the Spanish state service.
Some holidaymakers still take out private health insurance for Spain as they want the reassurance that the care will be of a high quality and also they are likely to have access to multilingual staff.
Even if you are entitled to free medical care on the Spanish state service you may just like in your home country prefer to go private as it has many advantages, principally much shorter waiting times for treatments and operations.
Perhaps you feel the doctors are better.
If you are one of the many people who spent part of the year in your home county and part of the year in Spain then you would probably want to consider taking out private health insurance for the time you spend in Spain.
If you are staying in Spain for a few months or living in Spain then private health insurance in Spain may be essential. Exceptions are for people who are employed in Spain or people who are self-employed – in these cases you become entitled to free health care in Spain when you get your social security number.
If you are entitled to use the Spanish system, when you arrive in Spain register with the local authority and obtain your medical card known as a tarjeta sanitaria. Take this medical card with you to the local surgery and hospitals and you will receive the same rights to treatment as if you were a Spanish national.
If you are in the EU then you should be able to get your home country to pay Spain to cover you. For people in the UK this cover lasts six months before it runs out – to get covered you need to apply using form E-106 available from the Post Office. People over 60 are covered permanently.
Why Take Out Private Health Insurance in Spain?
1. You may not be eligible for the public national heath service so you have no option but to take out private health insurance.
You are entitled to use the Spanish healthcare system if you have a job with an official contract or if you are self-employed and therefore paying into the social security system, or if you are of retirement age and thus a pensioner.
If you are below retirement age – perhaps you have retired early, you could well find that you do not qualify for state care. There has been a major crackdown, notably in Valencia province to stop early retirees in Spain and illegal workers not paying into the social security system, from accessing free State healthcare when they were not entitled to this.
In Valencia non-working expats under the retirement age must pay a €90 monthly fee to get the state medical care. So clearly at this stage you may be better off paying a little bit more per month to take out private health insurance with all the additional benefits it gives you over the state system.
2. Private health insurance in Spain gives you access to the private hospitals and private doctors who are generally of a higher standard than those in the public health care system.
Having said this, Spain spends more on their national health service than the NHS in the UK and although you read conflicting stories from expats, the general consensus is that the public health system in Spain is of a good standard.
3. People in the public healthcare system may speak some English but don’t rely on it and so private health insurance in Spain gives you peace of mind that your health care issues will be explained to you and understood.
One important difference between Spain and most other countries is that in public hospitals in Spain, basic care of the patients are often the responsibility of relatives who bring in food and gifts, So unless you have family and friends in Spain you may wish to go private so you are certain to be cared after when in hospital.
Care for the elderly in Spain is very different as there are no outreach services and there is a lack of care homes and nursing homes for the elderly.
4. Private health insurance in Spain often means jumping the queue and getting immediate operations rather than waiting.
5. Facilities are usually more comfortable and private if you have private health insurance in Spain.
6. Private health insurance in Spain means you can choose which doctors you want to see and what facilities you wish to go to.
This can only be a rough guide but for private health insurance in Spain expect to pay approximately €800 a year for a couple aged 50. A major Spanish private health care provider is Sanitas who are part of BUPA. Sanitas has plans that start from €15 a month, they have special private hospitals with bilingual staff.
Generally private health insurance in Spain is cheaper than comparable plans in the Uk but your choices of hospitals and doctors are more limited.
Rather than buying a specific policy for Spain you may want to consider a fully European health care plan if you are one of the many expatriates who spend equal time in the UK and Spain. BUPA offer these plans and this entitles you to private medical care both in the UK and Spain… as well as other European countries such as France through which you may be traveling.
These plans are more expensive and you will need to designate your main country of residence but importantly you will get coverage in the other countries which you visit as well as the ability to come back to the UK for private operations.
Ways to Get Cheaper Premiums
If you already have health insurance in Spain and you are looking to renew then obviously you want to renew your health insurance premiums for the lowest possible price.
Try going to an insurance broker who will be able to compare plans and quotes from many different providers of health insurance as this will potentially save you enormous amounts of time (as well as money) contacting each insurance company directly yourself.
Try also find a health insurance price comparison search engine which will take your specifications and instantly search online and compare prices and quotes for the cheapest Spanish health insurance on the market.
Always shop around as health insurance in Spain is generally expensive.
Do take into consideration your language skills. If you are not fluent in Spanish then it is important to take out health insurance with policy documents issued in English.
Otherwise you won’t fully understand what you are covered for. Don’t take the agent or brokers verbal explanation as when it comes to claiming on your Spanish health/medical insurance you will be the one footing the bill if you find you are not adequately covered.
So check the small print and ask questions until you are 100% sure the policy if what you want.
Spanish Health Insurance Companies
Direct Seguros (seguros is the Spanish word for insurance)
Potential Pitfalls and Problems
You need to consider what private health insurance companies provide and more importantly what they DON’T. Check the small print – there is no point in paying money for health insurance Spain on a regular basis only to find when you most need it – that you are not covered for something.
Consider if you will be traveling often outside of Spain – if so does your private health insurance in Spain cover you for this?
Does your private health insurance in Spain cover all of your family or just you?
Private health insurance companies in Spain often will not take on board clients with existing health problems. Not stating these initially may mean they will not cover you when treatment is required.
Premiums for private health insurance in Spain can be reduced considerably if you are prepared to pay a high excess if treatment is required.
Returning to the UK for Medical Care and Treatment
You need to realise the system works both ways. If you are resident in Spain and you go back to the UK you will only be entitled to the emergency health care using a EHIC. You won’t be able to use the NHS other than for emergencies. Realise that when you move to Spain you are forgoing many of your NHS benefits. For this reason it is essential you obtain the correct health insurance in case you suddenly are taken ill or need an urgent life-saving operation while living in Spain.
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