REGISTERING for state health care in Spain one of the hardest but most important things to get your head around – especially as the services offered depend on which region you live in.
Having lived only in Andalucia this past 23 years, I can only speak for this region and can testify that in all my dealings I have been treated well by highly-skilled and articulate professionals.
OK, these past years has seen some cutbacks in services, longer waiting lists and staff shortages but overall this has not affected the general treatment of the patient.
You may even find some staff speaking your language and, in some cases, the employment of translators. It’s widely acknowledged that even the private sector uses public services where they lack the latest medical equipment.
Expats access the Seguridad Social (National Health Service) via a Tarjeta Sanitaria (Social Security Card). You can only get this from the Tesoreria de la Seguridad Social IF you are registered in El Padron and have an N.I.E. (green document) number (see my previous blog relating to these matters).
Normally, once you have received your card you need to register at your local clinic i.e nearest to where you live.
Other conditions may have an influence on whether you receive assistance from the Spanish Health Service, such as if you are:
- A worker in Spain making Social Security payments
- A pensioner
- On state benefits
- Were previously on Spanish jobseeker’s allowance and are no longer entitled to it, but are still registered as a jobseeker at the Oficina de Empleo(INEM)
- Registered as a stateless foreign national resident in Spain (Registro de Extranjeros) with a valid residency permit and not earning in excess of €100,000
- Related to someone affiliated to the S. Security partner or ex-partner, with a dependent under 26 years of age or a dependent who is at least 65% disabled .
Those from outside the EU, including Switzerland and Andorra, should check with their countries to see what social security agreements with Spain are in vigour.
With regard to pills and potions, Spain operates a co-payment system requiring the patient to pay a percentage of all medication prescribed by their doctor.
For more information on Spanish healthcare see the government website (which is obviously in Spanish) https://www.msssi.gob.es/profesionales/prestacionesSanitarias/CarteraDeServicios/
To conclude I would like to briefly mention the private health sector.
Most expats feel safer having an insurance policy covering their various needs but this does not guarantee a better or more professional service.
Before taking out private health cover, seriously look at your personal/family needs in depth and discuss the policy fine print with an independent advisor before signing. Check out competitors as well.
Remember there are many cases where the insurers have refused to pay out due to lack of transparency for cases that ‘seemed’ to be covered in the policy.
Stay well and don’t hesitate and drop me a line if you have any queries.