Spain has one among the most effective healthcare systems within the world, however how does it work? Here we examine how the Spanish health system works for British expats and holiday home owners in Spain.

Along with pensions and tax, healthcare is that commonest subject that property-hunters raise at each one of our Spanish buying–advice seminars at our exhibitions. However it’s clearly one of the numerous reasons that such a large amount of folks nearing retirement plan to head to Spain, instead of countries where the medical facilities ar less evolved.

It’s proven that the typical spaniard lives longer than a Brit, whereas Spain’s state health service has been ranked higher than the UK’s by the globe Health Organization – soothing facts for expats within the Costas.

That said, anyone moving to Spain in 2016 is correct to analysis how they're going to access healthcare there, whether or not they’ll need to pay for it, and what the quality of treatment are like, including if the doctors and nurses will speak English. Thus here’s a short guide to Spanish healthcare for expats, in keeping with your scenario.

UK State pensioner

British people in receipt of a United Kingdom State Pension are entitled to the same level of state healthcare as a spaniard under the national insurance scheme. This is due to Spain and the United Kingdom being members of the european Economic area (EEA), which means certain benefits are transferrable between the 2 countries.

Pensioners ought to begin the process before leaving the united kingdom, by applying for an S1 form from the International Pension Centre. Once in Spain, register your S1 at your local Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social (INSS) office to receive an accreditation letter, which will enable you to register with a doctor at your local medical centre.

To do this, you’ll want your passport, NIE and certificates of local and national residency. In due course you'll receive a health card (tarjeta sanitaria), which you present once you use the health service. It’s a similar method for recipients of long-term benefits within the United Kingdom - simply be sure to check with the relevant United Kingdom office whether or not your healthcare entitlements are transferrable to Spain with an S1.

Two things to note: a  United Kingdom pensioner in Spain (who has registered an S1 form) can return to the united kingdom and receive NHS treatment at no cost, a bit like a United Kingdom resident; pensioners in Spain can register a dependent to receive state healthcare.

Employed in Spain

Spain’s benefits system is contributions based. this means if you're working in Spain and making Social Security contributions, you'll qualify for state healthcare. this can be done by registering for a health card at your local medical centre - you’ll want your Social Security number to do this.

“Working full-time entitles me to state healthcare here,” said Joanne Kilcourse who has lived in the Costa del Sol for twelve years and works in the Cala de Mijas office of a company that helps Britons to buy and move to Spain.

“I live in Calahonda and my nearest GP’s surgery is in Cala de Mijas. My nearest state hospital is the Hospital Costa del Sol in Los Monteros, and I’ve only had good experiences there. once my husband required treatment after an accident fixing his car, we waited simply 30 minutes to be seen and the staff spoke English. I visited a friend staying there for treatment once and she was in a room with only one other patient, and the place was immaculate.”

As within the United Kingdom, expats registered for state healthcare, whether through working in Spain or through their S1 form, can dip in and out of private healthcare, with many selecting the private route for certain types of treatment.

Neither working nor a United Kingdom pensioner

Brits moving to Spain before they reach United Kingdom State Pension age and who don't work, generally early retirees, won't be entitled to state healthcare (unless they receive benefits that qualify for an S1 form). several expats in this position prefer private health insurance.

Private cover offered by large international insurers, like BUPA global and AXA ppp, typically includes treatment in alternative countries outside of Spain, together with the united kingdom, which is helpful for those who split their time between 2 countries.

Typically, a private insurance company will have an inventory of chosen hospitals and medical centres in several regions, typically focused in expat areas, to which clients are referred. this allows them to watch and maintain a high level of care and guarantee clients are sent to medics who speak English.

It’s also worth watching Spanish insurers, together with local ones that supply versatile packages geared towards international residents.

“When we arrived in Spain we weren’t employed so took out private insurance with a local firm to cover us temporarily,” continued Jo Kilcourse. “We used Helicopteros Sanitarias who were great. we had a package that covered the entire family and included a 24-hour home doctor service and ambulance transfer to hospital if needed – any charges for treatment in the hospital were separate.”

Helicopteros Sanitarias operates between Torremolinos and Sotogrande on the Costa del Sol. according to its website, annual fees for basic cover start at €288, for one person, rising to €530 for a family of 3 or additional children.

An alternative - and customarily cheaper - choice to private healthcare is the Spanish Government’s recently launched pay-in scheme, presently accessible in most but not all regions of Spain. referred to as Convenio especial, this provides access to the state healthcare system for a monthly payment of €60 per person under the age of sixty five and €157 for those aged 65-plus.

Applicants should have been registered as a Spanish resident for a year, not be in receipt of healthcare cover from the united kingdom and don't qualify for an EHIC.

How to use EHICs

The European health insurance Card (EHIC) entitles citizens of 1 EU country to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare throughout a brief stay in another EU country. You apply for an EHIC within the country where you're resident.

EHICs are used primarily by holidaymakers and second-home owners. However, relocating Brits will use an EHIC, which will be issued within the United Kingdom before their departure, to cover their immediate medical needs throughout their initial 3 months in Espana - afterward, they should either be registered for Spanish state healthcare or have private insurance in place.

A British expat resident in Spain ought to apply for an EHIC in Spain, which will provide them an equivalent entitlement throughout a visit back to the united kingdom. If seeking hospital treatment in Spain with an EHIC, make sure you are taken to a public hospital and not one of the numerous private ones - treatment received within the latter won't be covered by your EHIC.

On paper, residing in Spain below the united kingdom State Pension age means that you're not entitled to free NHS treatment without an EHIC or proof of valid health insurance.

Pharmacies in Spain

In most villages in Spain, you’ll see the neon green cross of a local pharmacy, or ‘farmacia’, whereas towns or coastal resorts are seemingly to possess half a dozen, or more.

In Spain, practically all sorts of medication, including paracetamol, should be bought from a pharmacy - not a supermarket, which implies that in towns of a certain size, there'll always be a pharmacy open twenty four hours a day.A pharmacy that's closed after hours ought to indicate on their door where to find an open one.

Many medications that might need a prescription within the United Kingdom are often bought freely - and work out cheaper - at a Spanish pharmacy, together with antibiotics and stronger than average painkillers. thanks to this, pharmacists can typically deal with minor ailments or health problems that in the United Kingdom would be treated by a doctor.

How much you pay for medication prescribed by a doctor can depend on your income - pensioners generally pay 10 per cent of the price of their Spanish prescription, more if they have high incomes.

On the whole, medication isn't simply more accessible but also cheaper - the same pills acquired with an £8.20 prescription within the United Kingdom may well be €2-€3 in Spain.