Health insurance in Spain

Are you going to stay in Spain? Your personal situation will determine whether or not you are insured for healthcare costs.

We put together this information with great care. However, the rules are complicated and are subject to change. We cannot, therefore, guarantee that this information is correct and complete. We always advise to enquire about the rules which apply in your situation. For more information, please take a look at the website of the Seguradad Social (in English).

How is healthcare organised in Spain?

Spain has a public healthcare system which is financed by social premiums. Employees pay these via a deduction to their salary, while self-employed persons transfer the premium on a monthly basis.

Public healthcare is free for nearly everyone living in Spain. The main provider is the local Centro de Salud where most general practitioners work. You can only see a medical specialist if you have a referral from your general practitioner. In practise, it can often take a long time before you get a referral and many medical treatments have a long waiting list. Also, you do not usually have your own general practitioner, but are seen by whichever doctor is available at that time.

In addition to public healthcare, there are private general practitioners, specialists and hospitals. The service here is mostly much better and faster than in the public care sector. However, you can only see a private care provider if you are privately insured.

Are foreigners eligible for public healthcare in Spain?

You are entitled to public healthcare if you pay tax and social premiums in Spain. This also applies to foreigners in Spain who are employed there or are self-employed.

If you are receiving a pension (AOW) or benefit in the Netherlands and you live in Spain, please contact the Zorginstituut Nederland (in Dutch).

Are you only going to stay in Spain temporarily, for example on holiday? Then a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will give you the right to receive necessary medical care in Spain according to the rules and tariffs which apply there. You can apply to EHIC for this card, or your Dutch health insurer. It could still be sensible, however, to take out travel insurance with medical cover.

In all cases, you can only go to general practitioners, medical specialists and hospitals which are part of the public healthcare system, unless you have taken out private health insurance.

How can I apply for health insurance in Spain?

If you want to apply for public health insurance in Spain, you will need to register at one of the Seguridad Social (in English) offices. It is advisable to find out in advance which documents you will need to take with you.

What is covered by the public health care system in Spain?

The Spanish public healthcare system covers:

  • general practitioner
  • treatment by a medical specialist
  • hospitalisation
  • dental care following an accident
  • physiotherapy
  • nursing and homecare

A personal contribution applies to medicines: depending on your income or whether you are retired, this can reach 60%.

Treatments by a private general practitioner, medical specialist or hospital are not covered by the public healthcare system. You can only use these options if you have private healthcare insurance.

What should I look out for?

The quality of medical care in Spain can differ from place to place. Some of the islands, in particular, may not have certain medical specialisations available. In public health institutions, the hygiene is sometimes less than you might be used to in the Netherlands. Many people find the service offered by the Centro de Salud impersonal because you see a different general practitioner each time.

It is also sensible to take the following into account:

  • You pay a personal contribution for medicines: depending on your income or whether you are retired, this can reach 60%.
  • Dental care (except when following an accident) is not covered by public healthcare.
  • In Spain, it can take a long time before you receive a referral for a specialist or the hospital. Even if you do have a referral, there are often long waiting lists for public hospitals and specialists.
  • If you have private health insurance, you can often see an English-speaking or even a Dutch-speaking general practitioner or specialist.
  • Medical expenses incurred outside the EU/EEA are not refunded by the Spanish health insurance.

What does Dutch national health insurance cover?

Your personal situation will determine whether or not you have to remain insured with Dutch national health insurance during your stay abroad

Dutch national health insurance refunds emergency care worldwide. However, you will never be refunded more than the treatment would cost in the Netherlands. You may, therefore, have to pay extra if you are staying in a country where medical care is expensive.

Repatriation (return to the Netherlands) due to illness or an accident is not covered by Dutch national health insurance.

What solution does OOM Verzekeringen offer?

OOM Verzekeringen specialises in medical insurance for a longer stay abroad. Our insurance is meant for those who are no longer eligible for Dutch national health insurance. They can also be a supplement for costs which are not covered Dutch national health insurance or the Spanish health insurance.

We offer:

  • a range of cover levels
  • flexible duration
  • 24/7 access to the Dutch-language emergency centre
  • an attractive discount if you also have Dutch national health insurance
  • extra cover, for example for household contents, liability and accidents

Where can I find more information?

Do you need more information?

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be pleased to help in any way we can!

Last revised: 11-10-2016