Who is eligible for free health care

This is how the Spanish health system works

When you live in Spain as a foreigner it can sometimes be a bit confusing and complicated to familiarize yourself with an unfamiliar healthcare system, especially when you may only have a basic knowledge of the Spanish language. Here we take a look at that Spanish health system and the different options of the Health insurance.

State or private health insurance?

The Spanish health system is often rated as one of the best in the world. It consists of both the private as well as government health care. State health insurance offers free basic care to those who contribute to the Spanish social security system (usually employees or self-employed) and their families. Those who do not pay social security contributions therefore have no access to the public health system and should therefore ensure that they have private health insurance.

Many Spaniards not only pay social security, but also cover themselves with private health insurance. The private institutions allow direct visits to specialists and often offer shorter waiting times. According to statistics, around 19% of the Spanish population have some form of private health insurance.

Who has access to the state health system in Spain?

As a rule, state (public) health care in Spain is free for everyone who lives and works in Spain. The rules and regulations vary slightly depending on the Spanish territory, as the Spanish health system is decentralized and controlled by each autonomous community.

As a foreigner in Spain you have full Entitlement to free access to the state health systemif you meet one of the following conditions:

  • You have a place of residence in Spain and are employed there or self-employed subject to social security contributions.
  • You live in Spain and receive certain benefits from the state.
  • You are an underage child living in Spain.
  • You are a pregnant woman residing in Spain.
  • You are under 26 studying in Spain.
  • You receive a state pension from the Spanish state or other benefits.
  • You are temporarily staying in Spain and have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Registration in the Spanish health system

Registering with the Spanish health system to get a state health insurance card is quite easy. First of all, you need a social security number (Número de afiliación a la Seguridad Social). To do this, you need:

Make an appointment online at the social insurance office responsible for your area of ​​residence (Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social) to apply for your social security number there. You will then need to go to your health center (centro de salud) to apply for your health insurance card there (tarjeta sanitaria). You will be given a limited printout with which you can go to the doctor if necessary. The insurance card will be sent to you by post to your registered address in Spain.

Health insurance in Spain

Health insurance in Spain is covered by social security benefits, which, as already mentioned, are paid by everyone who is employed or self-employed in Spain, and also covers the immediate family (spouse and children). Anyone who is not covered by the state health insurance or the European health insurance card EHIC must have one Private health insurance to lock. These prices for private health insurance in Spain are usually the same between 50 and 200 euros per month, depending on insurance and coverage.