Healthcare in Spain: How to protect your health

healthcare in Spain

Does this story sound familiar?

Mr Hola is good man.

He married Mrs Hola at age 27.

Mr and Mrs Hola had a burning dream: moving to Spain one day, in the sun, feeling the breeze of the new happy life.

They had children, so the dream had to be postponed for a while.

However… at their late fifties the dream come true. Both Mr and Mrs Hola have a private pension for the company they worked for almost 30 years.

The children are over twenty and have their own jobs.

It’s time to jump into Spain.

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The Internet: the free (and misleading) information paradise

Apart from a few holidays in Torrevieja area, Mr and Mrs Hola don’t know much about Spain.

So they become members of Facebook Groups, read the forums, the official websites.

Somebody recommends a good estate agency and they buy a beautiful property in the Costa Blanca. Life is going well.

Then they keep reading about legal documentation: non-resident tax, the padron, the Spanish residency, healthcare.

The amount of contradictions on the Internet are overwhelming. They are aware of it. But no it’s not a problem. Life is going well.

free healthcare in spain

(Free = Good?)

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Free healthcare in Spain… Really?

A completely anonymous person on a Facebook Group (who seemed to be their best friend ever) tells Mr and Mrs Hola that healthcare in Spain is free.

The anonymous person was told there is a new decree on free healthcare, and the person who told the anonymous one was told by another person, who had read an article posted on a Facebook Group (which was hard to understand because it was translated into English using Google Translate).

Mr and Mrs Hola get on the padron and use their European Health card to register at the local doctor.

They now have a GP.

Magic, isn’t?

Free healthcare in Spain…

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But here is where things go wrong

One day Mr and Mrs Hola are walking along the beach on a wooden promenade. It’s a sunny, clear sky. One of those days where you feel that the existence belongs to you, that your life matters, love everywhere.

All of a sudden Mr Hola trips, falls over and breaks his right shoulder. Somebody around calls the Spanish emergency services: 112. Mr Hola is taken in an ambulance which arrives to the nearest hospital at light speed.

Bone fracture.

Cast.

Five weeks rest.

After the first follow up the bone specialist tells them they will need to arrange their health card to get permanent healthcare. Otherwise, Mr Hola’s shoulder won’t be treated (more specialist appointments, x-rays, MRI, physiotherapy).

Mr and Mrs Hola ask the doctor what that means.

He gives them the shrug of the shoulder. He is an excellent bone specialist, but he does not know much about the bureaucracy around healthcare for foreigners.

Spanish healthcare

(Health issues can break your love for Spain)

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Time to begin doing things right

Mr and Mrs Hola go back to the Facebook Group where they got all the information.

The anonymous person who gave them “free advise” is gone.

They ask again and get many contradictions.

Some people seem to want to start a riot because they are totally convinced healthcare is free in Spain. No limit. Free for no reason (well, just because they are from the EU).

Other people seem more reasonable and reply to them: how can you get free healthcare without having contributed anything to the Spanish social security system?

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Now is David’s turn

Do you want me to tell you a little secret?

I’ve met a lot of Mr and Mrs Holas since 2010 who had serious health problems and got hit when the free healthcare in Spain mirage dissapeared.

Are you in the same situation as Mr and Mrs Hola?

No problem.

The good news is that you are on one of the best websites on practical advice and quality professional information to live in Spain.

Why?

Because I’ve been helping foreigners since 2010, in the heat, going from one public office to another. And whatever a write about is based on real experience, not on empty words written to make money through advertisements.

Therefore:

  • You might be tempted to do things on your own (free)
  • Or get the help of a person from your country of origin who speaks some Spanish and helps foreigners in their spare time (pocket money)

But doing things right will not cost you that much money, and you’ll have peace of mind in return; as well as an effective outcome.

Health card spain

(Many times, doing things right will cost you ONLY several bills from the images… I promise!)

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Temporary vs permanent health card

The problem and the solution for Mr and Mrs Hola can be explained in two groups:

  1. Temporary and limited health card: you will obtain it through the EU health card. However, you’ll only have a GP, no ongoing treatments related to non life-threatening health issues (Mr Hola’s shoulder), no medical test such as: CT scans, MRI, the list goes on.
  2. Permanent health card: you must be a pensioner, worker, or self-employed. The pensioner scenario will require a Spanish residency card. If you are not of the pension age yet, you will have to have the Spanish residency card for a year on private medical insurance to apply for something called “special agreement” (paying a monthly fee to the regional government to have health care, at least in the Region of Valencia it works this way).

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What group are you in?

Nothing wrong on being on the temporary and limited version of the health card. It’s just that it will not cover ongoing treatments. And health issues can happen anytime to anyone.

Are you ready to apply for your permanent health card?

Please fill out the form below, I’ll get back to you shortly!

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Credit image: GotcreditF. Söhn, Jan

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