Planning to retire to Spain? Or even just going there on holiday? Our Spanish expert TINA IRVING gives us the lowdown on health and medical facilities in the country.
You’ll find that Spanish hospitals are modern and well-equipped, and staffed by experienced professionals. Interpretation and translation services are provided at most hospitals throughout Spain, although many doctors do speak excellent English.
Get a European Health Insurance Card
Most villages have medical centres (centros de saludos) – this is probably your first port of call should you fall ill while in Spain. If you are a UK national (or of any other EU country), you will be entitled to the same benefits as a Spanish national – but only if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
Residents of the UK can apply for an EHIC; this can be done over the internet. The card will entitle you to medical services at reduced costs, and often free of charge.
If you are a non-EU national, you should contact the Spanish consulate or embassy in your country to check what documents are required.
Benefits, work and health cover
If you are moving to Spain permanently and are in receipt of a state pension or long term incapacity benefit, you may be entitled to benefits paid from the UK. That’s good news if you are of pension age and want to retire to the sun, or if you’ve been advised by your doctor to live in a more favourable climate than that the UK has to offer!
If you are moving to Spain to live, but you don’t plan to work and you’re not in receipt of UK benefit, you may be eligible to receive state healthcare cover paid for by the UK for up to two and a half years.
More information on this can be found on the NHS website or, alternatively, contact your local medical centre for advice.
If you’re moving to Spain to work, there is a whole other process to follow – you’ll need to register with the social security office and pay Spanish national insurance, which is very expensive for those who are self employed. Completing the correct E-Form is very important.
Dentistry is not covered by the Spanish health service; you will need to find a private dentist. In tourist areas such as Andalucia, there are many foreign dentists of all nationalities.
It’s easy to find one just by asking around for recommendations, or by looking in a local English language publication where dental organisations often advertise their services.
Mediterranean countries tend to be very family-oriented, so actual bedside caring in Spain is mainly carried out by relatives.
Care of the elderly in hospital is virtually unknown in Spain, as are private care homes, although this is beginning to change. Organisations such as Age UK now operate in Spain in partnership with the UK Embassy.
General care for illnesses such as Alzheimers also tends to be dealt with by family members, with medical staff monitoring ongoing prognosis.
Before you go…
Your health is important, and you should do as much research as possible before moving to Spain. Then worst thing you can do is delay doing anything until you have a health problem. Make sure you complete all the necessary formalities before you leave the UK.
Many expatriates take out a private insurance policy to ensure that they are covered for all eventualities. But to reduce costs, you may decide just to rely on the state health service, and on reciprocal arrangements between the UK and Spain. If so, then make sure you have all the papers in order.