Healthcare in Spain consists of both private and public healthcare and it depends on your personal circumstances which you can apply for as a resident (or soon-to-be resident). You will find that some hospitals (hospitales) and healthcare centres (centros de salud) offer both private (privado) and state healthcare services (asistencia sanitaria pública), so it is important to look at what is on offer in your area before you decide.
Who can access healthcare in Spain?
State healthcare is free of charge to anyone living and working in Spain (paying taxes). As a foreigner living in Spain, you can receive free state healthcare if you are:
• A resident in Spain and work in employment or self-employment and pay social security contributions
• Living in Spain and receiving certain state benefits
• A resident in Spain and recently divorced or separated from a partner registered with social security
• A child resident in Spain
• A pregnant woman resident in Spain
• Under 26 and studying in Spain
• A state pensioner
• Staying temporarily in Spain and you have an EHIC or GHIC card (emergency treatment only).
What to do if you do not have the right to healthcare?
Foreign residents under pension age and not in work have 2 options:
1) Take a private healthcare policy, indeed this is a requirement for residency. Shop around for providers and ensure you request a policy that is valid for residency purposes.
2) After one year of legal residency apply for the Convenio Especial. This is a scheme by which you pay a monthly fee to subscribe to the public health care system. The price varies according to age and may be more expensive than some private policies but does cover pre existing medical conditions, making the Convenio a sensible option for those with such pre-existing conditions. Citizens Advice Spain (CAB) provide a useful guide to applying for the Convenio Especial:
Foreign residents in receipt of a pension from their home EU country (including the UK) can receive state healthcare as mentioned above, but must first acquire the S1 approval form from their native country and register here in Spain for a Social Security number. Details of how to apply for the S1 can be found on the CAB website: