Before beginning to evaluate all the pros and cons of the private healthcare system in Spain, it is important to understand the concept of Spanish healthcare in general. According to data from the research conducted by the Bloomberg agency in 2015 on the efficiency of national healthcare systems (in which the quality of services and amount of government expenditures in the sector in general are the main criteria), Spain was ranked 14th, leaving behind such world economic leaders as the U.S.A., Switzerland, and Germany. Overall, healthcare in Spain is a priority sector, with public and private medical systems positioned at an equally high level. As a case in point, private clinics in Barcelona actively provide services for the public sector and receive generous financing in return.
As statistics demonstrate, 98.7% of Spanish residents take advantage of the local healthcare system. 90% prefer its public (free) type, yet approximately 18% choose the services rendered by private healthcare. It should be mentioned that within the past few years, the expenditures on healthcare have been reduced considerably. Therefore, waiting for your turn in public hospitals can take much longer now. For instance, the waiting time for a surgery in Spain for the last several years has increased immensely. As of the end of 2016, the wait averages 89 days (13 days more than in 2012). In May of 2016, an estimated 550,000 patients waited their turn for non-urgent procedures.
The distinctive features that differentiate the public medical services and the private healthcare system in Spain are as follows:
- The use of private medical insurance allows the holder to avoid long waiting lists, not only for medical appointments, but also in case of complex medical procedures (e.g., surgeries);
- If you have a private medical insurance policy issued by one of the Spanish companies, you can choose a medical specialist by yourself and thereby avoid the standard visit to a general practitioner to receive the relevant referral to a specialist;
- Private healthcare for expats in Spain is an ideal way for foreigners to obtain medical assistance. If you recently have moved to Spain and therefore do not hold a European Medical Insurance Card (EHIC), and if you do not pay a stipulated part of your income to the Spanish General Treasury of Social Security (TGSS) and, as a result, do not have access to public healthcare, the purchase of a private insurance policy is the most reliable option to choose;
- In Spain, the following companies are leaders in the sector of medical insurance: Adeslas, Sanitas, Mapfre, and Caser. Insurance policies purchased from the aforementioned companies will guarantee you the best private health insurance in Spain;
- When buying private medical insurance in Spain, you should keep in mind that in some cases you may come across the notion of “tiempo de carencia.” This term stands for the period of time after the purchase of a policy, during which you will not be reimbursed in the case of certain illnesses or medical conditions, in particular for pregnancy. In order for the expenses for private consultations to be covered, at the moment of your referral to a specialist, 9-12 months must have passed from the date of the policy purchase. You will not be reimbursed for a visit to the hospital for pre-existing and pre-diagnosed chronic illnesses. This scheme is intended to prevent the “over-exploitation” of the private healthcare system in Spain;
- One should not underestimate medical insurance. The prices for paid medicine are rather high (especially when it comes to complex surgeries and the treatment of chronic diseases). If all the requirements of the policy are met, private insurance companies can cover up to 80% of expenses, or more. It is important to remember that for every medical appointment or medical procedure performed, the insurance holder pays a small fixed sum (1 to 50 euros, depending on the type of service provided), while the rest of the sum is covered by the insurance company;
- In Spain, neither dental services nor plastic surgery is included in the public healthcare system. In order to obtain dental services, you therefore must purchase separate dental insurance or pay for the treatment at a private medical center. Esthetic medicine and plastic surgery treatments must be covered by the client because there are no financial aids for these services.
Cost of private healthcare in Spain
The cost of private healthcare in Spain depends on two factors: the level of prestige and popularity of the insurance company and the coverage type.
The gradation of medical insurance policies in Spain is as follows (although some companies offer more gradations and options):
- Basic offers include expenses for consultations, therapeutic services, and routine surgeries. Even so, the hospitalization fee is paid separately. Baby deliveries and complex surgeries also are not included in the basic package. The purchase of medications in a Spanish pharmacy is not covered. The average coverage provided by such a basic package costs from 10 to 15 euros per month;
- Private healthcare in Spain allows the option of buying an insurance policy that covers all kinds of expenses except for required medications. On average, its cost is 40-50 euros per month.
- Should you want the best private health insurance in Spain and saving is not your priority, you will be able to take advantage of a “premium” insurance package. This package presupposes a specific sum per year for medications and a daily stay cost in a ward in case of hospitalization, etc. The cost of this policy fluctuates between 90 and 120 euros per month.
The cost of private healthcare in Spain can be reduced considerably by the valid discount systems (like those offered for students, the members of one family, and so forth), promotions, and other special offers.
If you are coming to Spain in order to improve your health, but you feel that you need some help, just remember that the specialists of INEEDSpain service center are always ready to provide you with all the assistance you will need. We will help you to plan, organize of your treatment, and select the best clinic and insurance company. We offer to simplify the complexities of medical tourism for you and to provide a translator’s services and assistance in the preparation of documents.