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The healthcare service system in Spain

healthcare service spain

The healthcare system in Spain provides two types of medical services to all people: Primary Medical Assistance (Atención Primaria) and Specialized Medical Assistance (Atención Especializada). The goal of the first type of medical service is health improvement, early diagnostics, and illnesses prevention. In order to get a consultation with a medical specialist, you should contact a hospital (Centro de Salud) near your place of residence. Specialized Medical Assistance includes outpatient treatment, hospitalization, and rehabilitation measures. According to statistics, out of 10 hospitals in Spain, an estimated 6 are private facilities and only 4 are public. Additionally, out of 10 beds, only 3 beds are reserved for the private sector, while 7 beds belong to the public medical institutions. The national (public) healthcare service in Spain is used by around 70% of patients, while the private sector provides services for 30% of the population.

Free healthcare services in Spain

National healthcare services in Spain are free for all working citizens who regularly pay insurance premiums to Social Security (Seguridad Social), minor children, retired people, and pregnant women. Persons who reside in Spain illegally are entitled only to free emergency medical assistance. Foreign citizens with a residence permit can get paid public medical insurance (Convenio Especial). Medical services for the expats in Spain also can be free, provided that a foreign citizen is officially employed in the country and pays insurance premiums, or holds the citizenship of another E.U. country and has relevant insurance through that country. In order to obtain the public insurance (SIP card), one needs to submit an identity document, registration at the place of residence (empadronamiento), and an application. All documents are accepted and processed by a corresponding social security center.

Every hospital and some policlinics have round-the-clock emergency care units (Urgencias). One may call the ambulance only in emergency situations, when a patient is not able to get to the closest medical facility on his or her own. In some cases, a doctor on duty in the emergency care unit might render additional consultation to a patient by phone.

Paid medical services in Spain

Paid medical services in Spain

According to information from the Healthcare Development and Integration Institute, since 2015, the number of patients at private clinics and hospitals in Spain has doubled. There are several major reasons the number of patients choosing private medical services continues to grow: with private services, there are no waiting lists, clinics have comfortable equipment, doctors take more individual approaches to the patients, and the service is superb. Also, private healthcare enjoys the use of more technologies. Over 20 % of chemical therapy sessions are conducted in private hospitals.

The easiest way to gain access to the private sector services is to purchase medical insurance. In Spain, there are numerous insurance companies (such as Adeslas, Sanitas, Mapfre) that offer different medical service packages based on the client’s preferences and needs. The cost of a program is approximately 25-120 euros per month and depends on a patient’s age, state of health, and place of residence. When buying an insurance policy, the applicant will need an identity document, banking information, and the application of the person to be insured.

In the healthcare system of Spain, all hospitals have a classification, regardless of the paid or free health services they provide. For instance, there are regional and local hospitals, general and special medical centers, outpatient and round-the-clock hospitals. Also, patients can continue their treatment in resort health centers (balnearios) and rehabilitation centers. As a rule, health resorts provide treatment services on a paid basis, although national healthcare services in Spain count on providing free quotas for elderly people. Every year, the Ministry of Healthcare along with the Institute of Social Services for Elderly People (IMSERSO) grants retirees a chance to spend 2 weeks in a resort health center with the option of choosing their program of treatment procedures.

Health tourism in Spain

Health tourism in Spain

The high quality of the healthcare system and the country’s well-developed tourist services make Spain an ideal and constantly developing health tourism destination.

In addition to the medical programs, foreigners praise Spain’s ideal ecological and climate conditions and admire the additional infrastructure that includes lodging, golf courses, tennis courts, beaches, etc. The following medical procedures are those generally determined to be affordable for foreigners: cosmetic surgery, ophthalmology, planned surgery, teeth treatment, orthopedics, rehabilitation, reproduction procedures, and esthetics. These medical services are provided in the private centers, health resorts, specialized hospitals, and in thalassotherapy centers.

The specialists of INEEDSpain will gladly answer all your questions, help you organize medical examinations, and provide all the services related to health tourism you need, including assistance in the preparation of required documents. Moreover, INEEDSpain service center will help you choose among vacation and treatment options in the best resort centers and specialized medical centers of Spain. We also can help you to purchase insurance in Spain based on your unique preferences. For further information, please contact us by phone or via the e-mail indicated on the main page of the website.


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