Healthcare Spain

Looking After Your Health In Spain

With an ageing population, worries about Brexit, and ever-longer waiting lists at public hospitals, lots of people are considering their healthcare options for the future. We’ve teamed up with a specialist company to find out more about public and private medical or healthcare insurance in Spain.

Can you use the Spanish public healthcare system?

Considered one of the best in the world, the public healthcare system in Spain isn’t without its problems.

Not all non-Spanish residents are entitled to use the public health service. Those that are may be worried about whether they will still be able to use it in the future.

And even if you can, will it give you the service that you would want if you, or a family member, became ill?

It can often come down to where you live; larger cities generally have better hospitals and more specialists, but the downside are the waiting lists for treatment and operations. The national average wait is almost 100 days for non-urgent operations. But the difference between regions is large; ranging from 24 days in Melilla to 147 in the Canary Islands (data from Jun 2018). 

What about private medical/health Insurance?

You can find a wide range of health insurance policies in Spain offered by a large number of providers. Cover ranges from a basic emergency service, often in the native language of the client, to a fully comprehensive service with private doctors, hospitals and state-of-the-art medical care.

This means that there is almost always a product for every budget. However making the choice can be confusing with such diverse options available in the market place.

Basic cover enables you to visit a doctor at a local private clinic. Often they will be able to speak English. Sometimes they include a home visit service. If your illness appears to need more serious examination then they will collect you in an ambulance and take you to the state run hospital. From there on you will be dealt with by the Spanish health service. These types of policies are at the bottom end of the scale and still leave you in the hands of the state provider at the end of the day.

Better cover is available however, which can include treatment in private hospitals and appointments with specialist doctors. It can include individual rooms with a bed for a family member whilst you are in hospital. 

The level of cover will depend on the company and any optional extras you decide to include. 

What benefits does private healthcare include?

Each policy is different, but in general you should be able to find the following benefits:

  • An extensive range of medical professionals and private hospitals to choose from
  • Ambulance service
  • General medicine
  • Nursing services
  • Emergency care
  • Medical and surgical specialities
  • Diagnostic aids 
  • Therapeutic methods
  • Hospital care
  • Free dental check up and cleaning, plus subsidised treatment
  • European-wide emergency cover

Extras are also available depending on your requirements. These include part reimbursement of medicines, cover when outside the EU, alternative therapies and more.

In general with private insurance you’ll find that there are lower waiting times both to see a specialist and to receive treatment.

What do I need to watch out for for before contracting a policy?

Of course, as with any type of financial product, it always pays to take a look at the small print; private healthcare policies are no different. Look out for the following:

  • Pre-existing conditions will almost always be excluded.Companies don’t want to take on someone who is already having treatment or may need further treatment related to an existing health condition. You’ll need to inform the company and may find that you’re covered for everything except any existing conditions.
  • If you need health insurance as part of your application for Spanish residency, you must have a policy that gives you the same benefits as someone who pays into the national social security system.This means the insurance policy must cover the full cost of any treatment, not a policy with co-payments. In other words request a “sin copago” policy. Policies with co-payments are initially cheaper but each visit to the doctor or analysis or operation will soon add up. If applying for Spanish residency you will need to provide proof that the full annual premium has been paid. Authorities will not accept policies paid in instalments.
  • Medical insurance policies have qualifying periods.Whilst the length of the qualifying period may vary between companies, they all have them. Many benefits of the policy are available immediately, and you won’t have a problem if you have a medical emergency. However, qualifying periods will apply for such things as hospitalisation, transplants or surgery.
  • Be honest on the medical questionnaire.Most companies don’t require a medical exam any more, but they will ask you to declare any treatments or operations you have had.  Whilst it might be tempting to conveniently forget something because the company doesn’t ask for a medical, this could backfire. The insurance company may ask for some pre-operative tests that make it obvious that you have been treated for something before. The insurance company will then almost certainly refuse to continue with the treatment and may cancel your policy.

How do I find out more?

BMI Brokers Correduría de Seguros, S.L. specialises in general insurance products for expatriate clients throughout Spain (mainland and islands). With over 30 years of experience they understand that one-size doesn’t fit all and will tailor insurance cover to a client’s requirements. Purchasing insurance through a broker gives you the added support of them representing your claim in front of the insurance companies.

Expat experts in: home, car, life, health, travel, landlord protection, community, business, pet, electric scooter, pension and boat.

Contact Jeremy Ryan on 952 582 282 / 637 834 552 or visit directly BMI Brokers online.

Email: jeremy@bmispain.com