Upon deciding on relocating into some country, there are some major things that need to be ascertained, things that play major factors into one’s life into another country. Aside from thinking much about the life that waits for in the country, health care is also another major concern.
Spain is one Western European country that consists of the Peninsular Spain, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It also has two archipelagos and two separate autonomies cities in Northern Africa.
Mainland Spain is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea on the south and the east, the Cantabric Sea including the Bay of Biscay on the north, and Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean on the west. The Spanish territories also include the Balearic Islands on the Mediterranean on Canary Islands on the African Coast. The country shares land borders with Andorra, France and Portugal, and the British colony of Morocco and the Gibraltar. Spain is one of the largest of three other states that comprise the Iberian Peninsula aside from Andorra and Portugal. Its total land area is 504,030 kilometers squared, making it Western Europe’s second largest country.
What You must Know about Medical Care in Spain
The Spanish Medical System is one of major public funds expenditures by government. The System accounted for 8.4% of GDP in Spain in 2006 and is a public parallel health care institution that works alongside a network of private health insurance systems. Over 90% of the populace uses this system for their medical needs.
If you are a visitor or an expatriate in Spain coming from a European Member state, you are generally free from hospital and medical care expenses. Having presented your EHC or the European Health Card, you will be attended by a general practitioner at your local center. But if you are not able to make it to your local health center, the general practitioner will be the one to pay you a visit on your place. If the situation requires you to see your specialist or be admitted to a hospital, the general practitioner can give you a referral or a medical certificate. Most hospitals in Spain also has Emergency and Accident services.
What the European Health Card Does
By definition, the EHC allows an individual duly insured to be covered by a statutory social security system of the EU countries to allow receipt of medical care and services from another member state at a discounted cost. With your EHC or the European Health Card, you can receive similar healthcare services like any Spanish citizen. Expiration dates are indicated on the European Health Card and are not valid in European countries like Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.
Where to Obtain the European Health Card
The European Health Cards are available from relevant healthcare organizations from your country of origin. Private hospitals and doctors in Spain though, do not honor a European Health Card. If you prefer to have a private health care, you are expected to settle your own hospital bills or you can apply for an insurance policy that covers your preferred health care.
What Health Forms are Necessary?
During your whole stay in Spain, if there is a need for a specific treatment like hemodialysis, you are required to fill out an E-112 form, together with an authorization from appropriate institutions from the country where you came from. Remember also that dental treatments are not generally covered in Spain except for those emergency extractions.
However, if you happen to forget your EHC card, it is your responsibility to pay for you pharmaceutical, medical and hospital bills in advance. You then seek for reimbursements from the appropriate health care organization from the country you came from, providing all the receipts of your payments.
Keep in mind that your European Health Card is not applicable if you only travel to Spain just to seek for special medical treatments. The same thing also applies to all the other European countries. On the other hand, there are still some countries that use European Health cards just yet. In this case, travel with your relevant documents gathered from your country. These documents are designated as valid until you have introduced your new card. But for further details, be responsible enough the contact the appropriate office from your place of origin and ask for full details regarding the current requirements in receiving medical attention in Spain.
Advice was provided in Spain Expat Forum last August 31, 2009:
There are changes to the issuing of European Health Insurance Cards for UK State Pensioners living in Spain. Note that people’s healthcare in Spain is not affected. The only change is for when UK state Pensioners registered on an E121 form need to travel from Spain to another EU Country. The changes are due to take effect from 1st May 2010.
Not a European Union Citizen? Know More the Health Care in Spain
Some of the other countries that are currently following the European Community rules are Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. These countries enjoy similar health care benefits like its member countries. Additionally, people that come from countries in which Spain has some form of a bilateral agreement like Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil and Andorra, can also avail of free hospitalization and medical care in cases of medical emergencies or accident. You simply have to present the corresponding health certificated from the country you came from. In the event that you do not have with you the certificate, simply pay upfront for the doctors, the hospitalization, and the medicines. Ask your heal care service or insurance provider to fully refund your expenses. Just make sure that you present the necessary receipts.
How the Spanish Health Care System Works
The National Health Service of Spain has a wide network of hospitals and health centers all throughout the country. The health centers of Spain provide primary healthcare services that include family and GP services, nursing and pediatrics, social workers, and physiotherapists. These services are aimed to at least be located just within fifteen minutes of a place of residence. Additionally, if circumstances require, it is possible for the medical professionals to go to the patient’s residence.
Medical Treatment in Spain
The health care system in Spanish is very good. Its hospitals are very modern and are well equipped. The pediatricians and the doctors are excellent. Although there are some differences in policies between the Spanish and the British health systems, overall they are generally quite similar. However, the biggest difference between the two is the levels of nursing care. Spanish nurses are efficient and well trained but they do not perform the way British nurses do. Instead, feeding and personal care in Spain are normally taken cared of by the family of the patients instead.
If you plan on living in Spain, keep in mind that most of the medical staff are not English-speaking. But then, you can always seek for voluntary translation services when you set an appointment with your doctor. Just make sure that it is available in the specific area of Spain that you intend to live in. This was echoed in Spain Expat Forum last August 28, 2009:
The doctor, dentist thing, well I go private, but I believe if you pay into the system here you can go to any of the clinicas or hospitals. Once you’re a resident I dont think the E111/106 will be available to you
Over-all, Spain is one option if you have plans of living into another country.