Healthcare in Spain: Hospitals and Health Insurance

Healthcare in Spain: Hospitals and Health Insurance | HealthSoul

Healthcare in Spain

With a population of just over 46.1 million in 2015, Spain ranks 29th in the world by population and 53rd by total area. The official language of Spain is Spanish. The currency is the euro.

Spain ranks 7th in world health ranking per WHO. In 2014, the total expenditure on health per person was $2,966, which is 9% of the GDP. Spanish males have a life expectancy at birth of 80 years, and females can expect to live 86 years. There are 3.95 physicians per 1,000 people in Spain as compared with 2.56 physicians per 1,000 people in the United States.

Hospitals in Spain

Spain has over 300 acute care (provincial and general) public hospitals and nearly 500 private (non-profit and for-profit) hospitals. The public hospitals are much larger (over 106,000 beds) and deal with many more patients than the private hospitals (about 53,000 beds), but all are modern and well-equipped. Public and private non-profit facilities are managed and regulated by the health departments of the Autonomous Communities (ACs). Private for-profit facilities must fund themselves unless they are under contract with an AC.

Nearly 3,000 health centers and 10,000 local clinics provide family and general practitioner care, nursing and pediatrics, social workers, and physiotherapists.  These are located throughout the country, usually within 15 minutes of most citizens. Some hospitals and healthcare centers provide both public and contracted private services. There are also private clinics, used by about 10% of the population.

Best Hospitals in Spain | HealthSoul

Health Insurance in Spain

Spain’s single payer system offers universal health coverage (SNS) with no claims forms and no out-of-pocket expenses (except for prescription drugs) for all residents, even undocumented immigrants. The downside is having a long wait to see specialists and to have certain procedures. The system is funded partly by social security payments, deducted from wages, with each region having its own budget, allocated by the central government.

Civil servants can choose to opt out of SNS and have only private insurance. For all other citizens, private insurance is complementary, providing faster treatment for non-emergency procedures, access to services (such as adult dental care) not fully covered under SNS, and luxury services such as private rooms, emails, and express mailing of test results.

Travel (International) Health Insurance in Spain

Many European countries offer European Health Insurance card (EHIC ) which offers emergency medical coverage when traveling to participating European countries. Travel, or international, health insurance provides comprehensive medical coverage when traveling outside of one’s home country. Travel health insurance is different from travel insurance, as the latter may provide only emergency coverage but not full medical coverage.

Travelers should check with their health insurance provider, as they may already have an option of international health coverage. If they do not, they can purchase travel health insurance from their home country or the destination country.