Health Care for Expats in Spain

by : Ruth Polak

Health care in Spain is of a very high standard with good local healthcentres or Centros de Salud and here on the Costa del Sol we have an excellent central hospital,the "Costa del Sol", at Marbella. In addition to which there are of course many other hospitals both private and publicbut most ex-pats tend to gravitate towards the "Costa del Sol" and youhear very good reports of the treatment people have received there. Certainly my own experiences through attending the A & E, or"Urgencias" when the children were little were very positive. On one occasion my son broke his foot and we were in and out within and hourhaving had the offending foot, x-rayed and plastered.

The staff there are kind and caring and there are translators on hand if your Spanish is limited. They have a very positive attitude to relatives and in fact are quite happy for one to be present at the hospital 24 hoursa day.

When my other son of 15 was in with a broken leg he shared a room with a youngerboy and they pushed the beds together so that the boys father couldsleep there. A bit unorthodox by some standards perhaps but the Spanishare extremely family oriented and they made every effort to include myson in their visits.

Your E111, or European Health Card as it is now called, will suffice for many of your needs in relation to your health care in Spain and in fact boththe incidents sited above were taken care of by my E111 even thoughthe latter involved quite a complex operation with my son's leg being pinned. Follow up treatment needs to be paid for however soprivate health insurance is advisable if you are living in Spainor if you are just visiting. You can applyfor this new card If you are living and working in Spain and therefore paying social securitythen you will be entitled to the same health care in Spain as Spanish nationals. If you are in receipt of a U.

K. pension and intend to live in Spainthen you need to get a form E121 and this should be taken to your nearest Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social (INSS) office for registration. Youwill then be issued with a medical card which you must produce if you require treatment anywhere and you will then receive this freeof charge.

Spanish chemists, or Farmacias, are a great part of health care in Spainand are a good port of call if your symptoms are not serious enoughto worry your doctor or take you to the A&E department of the hospital.

You will always receive good advice there and probably be recommendedsomething for whatever ails you. If you are receiving prescriptiondrugs at home then bring the packet with you and you will probablyfind that you will be able to buy your medicines over the counterwithout the need of a further prescription. I must say however that I think their rather free practise of dishing out antibiotics to anyone who asks is not really to be condoned.

In conclusion the level of health care in Spain for both residents and non-residents is of the highest standard and waiting lists are probablyshorter than in the U.

K. Accident and emergency treatment is providedfree for anyone with a European Health card and the full medical services are available for pensioners who have registered with the appropriate authority and for anyone paying into the social security system.