All hospitals accept emergencies, and Spanish doctors are required by law to treat you no matter what your nationality. All hospitals in Spain have an accident and emergency room that is open 24/7. Treatment is based on the severity of the emergency and also how long you have waited to be seen by a doctor. The severity of your complaint will be assesed by a triage nurse or doctor and then you will be sent to another ward or department if necessay. If your problem is not too serious you will be required to give your personal information to the admission staff at the registration desk. If you have been admitted by an ambulance, the staff will try to obtain information from you or your family in-between treatments within the first hours.
All emergencies are attended to, whether you have a medical card or not. You will never be denied treatment because you can’t pay. However, if you are insured, the hospital may request your insurers information to request payment after the fact.
Hospital Admission in Spain is relatively easy and painless. There is no need for a prior recommendation from a doctor or pharmacist, however without their referral, you are required to wait in triage until a doctor has been able to assess your status and assign you to a relevant department. If it is not an emergency, your nationality plays a deciding factor on how you receive medical treatment.
If you are an EU citizen or a legal Spanish resident, you are required to show the following at the emergency or triage desk:
- The European Health Insurance Card and/or E121 or Spanish medical card (tarjeta de seguridad social).
If you are a resident of a non EU country you are still entitled to free healthcare. However, you are required to apply for a Spanish medical card (see the “Health Coverage” section for more information). To do this, you should contact your local Spanish consulate to enquire as to what forms you may need to take with you.
In a non-emergency situation, if you do not have a Spanish medical card, you will be expected to show some sort of proof of medical coverage (ie. insurance card, letter from insurer, etc.). You are not allowed to make an appointment to see a doctor unless you show your medical card or proof of medical insurance, this goes for referrals and non-emergency procedures as well. Whether the social security system deems it necessary to actually go through the trouble of charging your insurer is another story entirely.