The health care in Spain is generally high quality, with all medical staff requiring top medical training in order to practice as a doctor or nurse. Furthermore, in every doctor’s office you will find a leaflet outlining your rights as a patient and your obligations to the Spanish health services.
Spain offers universal, free health care, and private health insurance is not required, although it is available.
If you are an EU citizen, you are guaranteed free medical care while in Spain. To ensure you are covered, it is advised that you complete an E111 form, available at most local post offices in your home country. It is also possible to receive free prescription medication if you are a pensioner, disabled or receive some type of government aid in your home country. To receive the same service in Spain, you must complete an E121 form at your local Social Security Office in your home country.
The E111 and E121 will cover your medical treatment in Spain until you receive your Spanish medical card. As soon as you you receive your Social Security Number and become part of the Spanish Social Security System you are given a document which entitles you to acquire your Spanish health card (tarjeta de seguridad social) at your local Social Security Office, which is usually found in clinics. If there isn’t one in your clinic, ask the doctor for the nearest office.
EU citizens who two years prior to coming to Spain have contributed to their home country’s social security institutions can claim coverage for a limited period from the date of their last social security contribution.To take advantage of this, you must fill in an E106, available at your local post office in your home country, and give it to the local Social Security office in Spain.
Non EU Countries
If you are a resident of a non-EU country, you are still entitled to free healthcare, but you must apply for a Spanish medical card. To do this, you should contact your local Spanish consulate to inquire as to what forms you’ll need to take with you to Spain as the requirement varies widely depending on nationality.
You must choose a doctor as your primary physician in Spain, but you do have the right to choose whomever you like and to change at any time if you’re dissatisfied. When registering at a doctor’s office in Spain, you must show your E111/E121 or Spanish medical card and give the receptionist a photocopy for their records. They will then enter your personal and medical details into their computer database.
There are two types of medical practice in Spain: a small practice with one or two doctors, where you will always see the same doctor. However, because appointments are not necessarily required, you may have a long wait if the waiting room is full. Health Centers have numerous doctors and offer an efficient service. However, you may not see the same doctor every time you visit.
As set out in the patient’s rights and obligations handbook, you are allowed to pick your own doctor regardless of your place of residence and change practices at anytime if you are unhappy with your treatment.
It is not necessary to pay for anything except prescriptions when visiting the hospital, and if you are an EU resident with an E121 or a pensioner, you do not have to pay for prescriptions either. Spanish hospitals are known for offering a good level of treatment, as well as a fairly rapid service. It is common for some doctors and nurses to speak English. However, it is advantageous to take someone with you who speaks Spanish or a phrase book. It is not necessary to register with a hospital. However, when you arrive they will open a file on you in order to compile your medical data about, including information on what tests or treatments you require. If you are referred to the hospital by your doctor, your doctors practice will send your medical file to the hospital.
The national emergency number is 061.
For Madrid hospitals, see the “Best Facilities and Practitioners” section.
Pharmacies are plentiful and widespread in Madrid. They tend to be independent businesses and there are generally several pharmacies in each neighborhood. Their large, green (sometimes neon light) cross make them very easy to spot. Pharmacies sell a wide array of over the counter medications that you may not be accustomed to in your home country.
There is no standard fee for prescription medication, with each item being priced differently. However, medicine in Spain tends to be cheaper than in most countries.
Pharmacy hours tend to be:
Monday-Friday 9:30 am- 2pm and then from 5pm -9.30pm
Saturday 9:30 am -2pm
Dental care is not covered by social security, so treatments must be paid out of pocket. You can get private insurance that cover these treatments, but dental care prices are fairly reasonable. You do not have to show any documentation at the dentist’s to make an appointment. However, it is advised to take a form of identification just in case they need it for their records. A passport is acceptable.
Although insurance is not required, coverage starts at about 30 euros per month for a 30 year-old male. Major insurance providers include:
An insurer with many offices throughout Spain that has both English and Spanish speaking staff.
El Corte Ingles Goya
C/ Goya 76
T: 901 100 210
Metro: Goya (Line 4 & 2)
The company web site that is dedicated solely to English speaking expatriates specializing in Spanish relocation. A range of plans to suit most budgets is available.
T: +44 (0)870 428 81
A major insurance company with offices and clinics throughout Spain.
Pasaje de Colón, 1 (Clinic)
T: 91 895 47 04