Healthcare in Spain

Spain has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Hospitals are well equipped and doctors are well trained. However access to the government healthcare system is more or less restricted for people who do not contribute to the social system in Spain, no matter if they are EU citizens or not.

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How the government healthcare system works

The system is based on the concept that you need to be referred by a General Practitioner (GP) to specialist. Each person has his/her own GP and this would be the starting point of contact. The GP would refer you to a specialist depending on your needs. On the other hand, in case of emergency when you cannot wait to be attended by your GP, you can walk into the nearest emergency room and depending on the severity of your case care will be taken as soon as possible. 

Emergency health services are available to anyone, regardless of the contributions to the social security system. It is a good idea to have your European Health Insurance Card issued by your country to facilitate the admission process, but even if you don't have such a card you will receive the necessary medical care.

Waiting times for specialists might be high and sometimes be more than six months. Everything would depend on the severity of your case. If the doctors decide that you can wait, you will wait. This could be frustrating for some people, but unfortunately you have to get used to it. Another drawback would be the fact that not many of the staff would speak a desirable level of English to properly understand you.

Other healthcare options

There are various private health insurances available. Almost every reputable insurance company offers health insurances (like Mapfre for example), but not all insurance companies have own facilities. A good choice for private healthcare is Sanitas - they have very well developed network through out Spain with own hospitals and clinics. In addition they cooperate with other private hospitals, that would threat you as a part of your insurance with Sanitas.

A big plus of the private healthcare is that waiting times are really low. Usually you can get an appointment for a specialist within a week. Appointments and the overall communication with Sanitas is done via a friendly application on your phone.