The Spanish health system is considered one of the best in the world, and its public medical care is universal and free of charge for any citizen. Besides, Spain is at the top of the ranking of organ transplants, becoming a reference in Brazil for the National Transplant System, coordinated by the Ministry of Health.

In 2019, Spain was considered the healthiest country in the world. As in Brazil, Spain has a public and private health system. To benefit from the health system in Spain, it is necessary to reside legally in the country and contribute to the Spanish government to have the right to public service, as it is funded by the government through taxes.

Public Health System

It is estimated that 90% of the Spanish population benefits from the public health system in the country. It covers doctors' appointments (except for ophthalmology and dentistry expenses), hospitalization fees in public facilities, and medications. Public health services in Spain are classified into two groups: Primary Care and Specialized Care.

In Primary Care, basic services are offered, such as consultations, exams, dressings, courses for pregnant women, and emergency care. As for Specialized Care, care is directed to specialty centers and hospitals, either on an outpatient basis or on an admission basis.

To use the public health system in Spain, you must be registered with Seguridad Social. Obtaining the Seguridad Social number is free and fast, and must be requested before beginning any activity or service provision, and may be requested by the worker himself or by the employer.

Once registered, it is necessary to go to the health center closest to the place where you live, to request the Tarjeta Sanitária, as the health card is called.  All persons duly accredited using an individual health card or another official accreditation document that recognizes their right to health from the Unified Health System, as well as from other groups, are entitled to public assistance.

The National Institute of Social Security is the competent body to determine the right to health care from the public funds of the Unified Health System.

Therefore, if the citizen is unemployed, retired, or fulfills a period of leave, he will have guaranteed service if he is registered with Seguridad Social (Social Security). Concerning foreigners who are in Spanish territory, as a requirement for entry into the country, the government requires that all travelers have health insurance or travel insurance that is covered in Spain, otherwise, the public service is guaranteed only in cases of accidents, serious illnesses and for pregnant women who are in labor.

If medical assistance is required, you must first contact the insurance to find out which hospitals are associated in the city so that you can travel to one of them.

In cases where the individual is a citizen of one of the member countries of the European Union, you will be able to receive medical care in Spain's public health system, provided you present the European Health Insurance Card (CESD).

Private health system

As mentioned above, in Spain there are health plans, where it is necessary to pay a monthly fee to enjoy medical and hospital care when necessary. For foreigners who are working in the country, it is also recommended to hire health plans, which can be done by the company the individual works for or even by himself.

There are generally three types of health insurance in Spain:

  • Accredited without co-participation: it is the most economical, however, it has a low coverage concerning assistance and services.
  • Accredited with co-participation: despite the low monthly fee, it is necessary to bear some costs related to consultations and exams.
  • Accredited and private: it is the most expensive option, however, there is the possibility to request reimbursement of high amounts, according to the limit established by the plan.

One of the advantages of health plans is the fact that they offer some specialties that are not available in the public health system, such as ophthalmology for example. For those who do not have a health plan, there is also the possibility of using services not offered by the public system in private hospitals, paying separately.

Source: Eudicas| MSH