The Spanish Health System for Expats and Travellers

Spanish Health System Walkthrough

Everything you need to know about the Spanish health system for expats and travellers!

It’s always good to have an idea of how the health system works in a country you’ll be visiting or living in. With public and private healthcare, differing rules on insurance, and separate rules for EU and Non-EU visitors, it can be a lot to get your head around the Spanish health system. Here we hope to make it all a bit simpler. Of course, we hope you won’t need it during your stay in Ronda, but just in case you do here’s a little information on how the Spanish health system for expats and travellers works in Spain!

Spanish health system

Spanish Health System | Am I entitled to Social Security?

European students and travellers are entitled to social security healthcare services if they have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This entitles them to public healthcare services at the same price as the national residents. The card has to be issued in their home country before travelling to Spain. For example, UK residents can apply for the EHIC easily through the NHS website.

All citizens who reside in their country have the right to this service even if they are retired, unemployed or beneficiaries of another individual. However, make sure any treatment you receive is through a public, not private, service, otherwise you may have to foot the bill!

European students carrying out a placement longer than 6 weeks in Spain will need to re-apply for the EHIC in order to make it a Student EHIC. This is a temporary card valid specifically for the dates of your placement. Unfortunately, applications for the student EHIC are postal only.

Spanish Health System | In case of emergency, what would happen if you don’t present or simply don’t have an EHIC?

In a situation where the EHIC is not presented, the patient will receive an invoice upon receiving the medical care. It is possible to reclaim this money later from their private insurance company or from the Social Security system of their country. It is not necessary to have private or additional medical insurance, however the EHIC is no substitute for regular travel insurance which covers things other than medical issues.

In Spain, the emergency service number to dial is 112. Despite the phone call being free, calling out an ambulance may incur a fee.

Spanish Health System | What to do if you would like to go to the doctor?

Firstly, for expats and travellers to book an appointment at the hospital, you will have to register with a general doctor at a healthcare centre in Ronda, Spain (Ronda Norte, Ronda Sur and Ronda Hospital). This will always be the first step to be later referred to specialists, run analysis or other tests etc if necessary.

After you are registered with a doctor, you will need to present the European Health Insurance Card and proof of residence in Ronda, Spain at the Administrative Health Centre. It’s possible that you will be given a temporary displacement card (for 3 months), and depending on the period you are staying, it can be extended.

Sistema sanitario en España

If the doctor should prescribe you medication you can collect it from one of the pharmacies marked with a neon green cross, there are several in Ronda. With an EHIC you will only be charged a percentage of the prescription price, the same as the residents. In Spain all medication is available from the pharmacies, unlike in other countries you will not be able to buy common tablets from any supermarket. Local pharmacies also take it in turn to provide an out-of-hours service.

You can find out which pharmacy is open each day in Ronda, Spain here. For other locations, the out-of-hours information will be available online or likely published in the window of the pharmacy.

For EU members, both for expats and travellers, the easiest place to start is with the EHIC, though just a small blue card it can save hassle and money when abroad, so it is definitely worth the application. Though a lot to take in, with a bit of forward planning you will be well-prepared and safe to travel. It’s all easier than it seems but if you do happen across any issues before arriving or even during your stay, our team will be more than happy to advise and help you!

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