Of course we hope you will never need it, but if anything happens to you during your stay in Spain, it's good to know that Spanish health care is one of the best in Europe. The World Health Organization even ranks Spain at number 7 of countries with the best healthcare. With this ranking Spain is ranked higher than countries such as England, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Denmark. The Spanish healthcare system may work slightly differently than you are used to. That's why we would like to give a brief explanation.
Anyone who pays premiums in Spain for the 'seguridad social' is entitled to use the public healthcare system. This applies to people who pay taxes in Spain, receive a pension from Spain or another country, people who are employed in Spain and for people who have their own company in Spain. If you are not covered for public healthcare, you can apply for private health insurance. You could also apply for this in case you are covered for public healthcare by seguridad social, but want extra service and comfort. Private insurance offers shorter waiting lists, single rooms and an translator. The choice for a private insurance therefore depends on your situation, budget and requirements. Will you only come to Spain for short holidays? Then the health insurance from your home country is usually sufficient and you could have travel insurance for (urgent) medical care during your stay in Spain.
If you are entitled to use the seguridad social system, you can register with a 'centro salud' in your place of residence. You can go to this centre if, for example, you want an appointment with a doctor. For urgent medical care you can visit the walk in department (urgencias) of a hospital. Spain has two types of hospitals: public hospitals and private clinics. In both cases, the care is of high quality, but public hospitals, for example, have multiple beds in a room, while private clinics offer more comfort and single rooms. Private clinics can be so luxurious that you feel like you’re staying in a hotel! In addition, most private clinics have an translator, which of course is useful if you do not speak Spanish. However, we notice that a translator is also present in more and more public hospitals.
Urgent medical care in Spain is free for EU citizens who have a European health card: the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). However, the card does not cover private and non-emergency medical care. For this reason private doctors and clinics do not accept the European health card.
We sincerely hope that you will never need the number, but in case of emergency where you need ambulance, police or fire brigade, you will have to call 112 in Spain. This is a free phone number. If you are in a tourist area, you can usually get hold of someone who speaks English (and in some cases even German or French).
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