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Since the law 16/2012 dated 20 April came into force in Spain (Law of urgent measures to ensure the sustainability of the national health system) many things have changed regarding the requirements for accessing the Spanish public health care system.

The Spanish public health care system has an extensive network of hospitals and health centres, and it’s generally considered to be of excellent quality. Nevertheless, you will have to bear in mind that many of the services that were delivered free of charge will be, in certain cases, charged.

For the time being, the United Kingdom remains a full member of the EU and rights and obligations continue to fully apply in and to the UK.

Residents from the EU travelling in Spain

If you are travelling to Spain and you are resident in a EU country, you should carry with you the EHC (European Health Card). This card entitles you to free public hospital and public medical care throughout Spain, EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Depending on your place of residence you can request the card through your social security or medical authorities. Take into account that dental care in Spain is not  covered by the EHC except for emergency treatments.

If you need regular treatment during your stay (for example haemodialysis), you will have to carry with you specific forms like the E112 and additional authorisation that you will have to ask from your national medical authorities. It’s important to notice that the EHC will not be valid if you travel to Spain to receive specific medical treatments.

If you forget your EHC, you will have to pay your treatments in advance. They will be reimbursed in your home country by providing all the payments receipts.

Residents in Spain

Individuals who are resident in Spain can get insured and be entitled to healthcare in Spain if they meet at least one of the following requirements:

  •         be working (either as employee or self-employed) and be registered and enrolled (or in an equivalent situation) in the Spanish Social Security System,
  •         be a beneficiary of a pension from the Spanish social security,
  •         be a beneficiary of any regular benefit from the Spanish social security,
  •         be unemployed, perceiving unemployment benefits or allowances or
  •         be unemployed, having exhausted the unemployment benefits or allowances,
  •         be a minor subject to administrative supervision

Also, relatives of insured persons can receive healthcare as beneficiaries if they are resident in Spain, live with the insured person, are in charge of the insured and fulfil certain requirements:

  •        Being the spouse or partner of the insured person (or the former partner if in charge of the insured person),
  •         being son or daughter under 26 years or over 26 years with a disability degree of more than 65% or
  •         being brother or sister of the insured person.

What includes the healthcare in Spain?

The healthcare for insured persons or beneficiaries includes:

  •        Medical care in health centres and hospitals belonging to the state network, or at home for elderly people or people with disabilities;
  •        Emergency care with attendance in any medical centre and admission to hospital (also by ambulance), if necessary;
  •        Rehabilitation and medical prescription;
  •        Medicines (depending on the case it can be free of charge or charged with 10%-60% of the full price). Glasses and dental protheses are not covered.

Assistance duration

Spanish healthcare assistance starts from the day after the person is enrolled into the system. The duration of the assistance after a person stops belonging to one of the eligible categories depends on the duration of contributions to Social Security.

In the case of a worker (employee or self-employed) who stops contributing to the social security the duration of healthcare coverage will be different according to contributions of more, or less than 90 days within the previous 365 calendar days:

A worker who has contributed more than 90 days will receive:

  •         52 weeks of healthcare assistance after dropping out from social security, if assistance commenced before dropping out
  •         39 weeks after dropping out from social security, if assistance started after dropping out,
    beneficiaries of Spanish social security (for example unemployed) will receive a 39 weeks extension after they stop receiving benefits.

If the worker contributed for less than 90 days, the duration will be of 39 weeks after dropping out (26 weeks for family members of that person).

Workers who have suffered from a professional accident or illness will benefit from healthcare coverage during the full process even if they have dropped out of social security. As a general rule, treatments will not be stopped until the person has fully recovered.