Healthcare in Spain

Last updated: July 11, 2019

It may be surprising to find out that the World Health Organization found that Spain has the 7th best health care in the world, ranking significantly higher than the UK in 18th place. Spain’s national health service (INSALUD) is currently one of the best and most modern in Europe. On this page you can find everything you need to know about the healthcare in Spain if you were to move there.

Healthcare in Spain

Public Healthcare

When working or living in Spain you are always able to access public healthcare. There is a legal obligation to have medical insurance known as social security. These social security payments are deducted from wages (around 4.7%). This means that there is no upfront expenditure from patients.

As a British national, you are entitled to free state healthcare if you are:

  • a resident in Spain and work in employment or self-employment and pay social security contributions,
  • a resident in Spain and receiving certain state benefits,
  • a resident in Spain and recently divorced or separated from a partner registered with social security,
  • a child resident in Spain,
  • a pregnant woman who is a resident in Spain,
  • under 26 and studying in Spain,
  • a state pensioner, or
  • staying temporarily in Spain and have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).

If you are registered in Spain with an NIE number it may be necessary to complete an application form for the TA1 form which will allow you to receive a Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual (TSI), a renewable health card that is valid for four years.

In addition it is also advisable to take out medical insurance as there have been cases in the past where EHICs have not been accepted in Spain.

Private health care

Despite having an impressive public healthcare system it an increasing number of people in Spain are opting to go through private healthcare in order to avoid long queues for non-urgent medical procedures. 18% of the population are opting for this option as it tends to be more modern and more comfortable.

Dental care and optical care are not included in free public healthcare in Spain (the average cost of dental insurance is around 10-20€ per month).

Health care in Spain

Pharmacies and Prescriptions

Pharmacies in Spain tend to be open from Monday – Friday 9.30am – 2pm and 5pm – 9.30pm, 24 hour pharmacies tend to be common especially in bigger cities and the locations are usually shown on the door or window of the nearest pharmacy.

The cost of prescriptions is a percentage of the total cost based on salary. If you earn €18,000 or less you pay 40 per cent of the total cost of the medication, €18,000 – €100,000 you pay 50 per cent and over €100,000 you pay 60 per cent. Pensioners only pay 10 per cent.

The level of spoken English in Spain may be a problem outside of big cities, therefore it may be advisable to learn some emergency words such as:

  • Accident: Accidente
  • Emergency: Emergencia/Urgencia
  • I need an ambulance: Necesito una ambulancia
  • I need a doctor: Necesito un medico
  • Heart attack: Ataque cardiaco/Infarto
  • Stroke: El accidente vascular cerebral
  • I need a dentist: Necesito un dentista

The healthcare system isn’t the only thing that is impressive about Spain. Education in Spain has increased a lot in recent years!

More information about moving to Spain can be found here.