The Spanish local healthcare system provides all citizens with free basic healthcare insurance which covers doctors’ visits (excluding vision care and dental care expenses), hospitalization fees in public facilities, and drugs. This system, known as Insalud (Instituto Nacional de Gestión Sanitaria), is funded by social security contributions. Around 90% of the Spanish population uses this system while the rest of the population takes out private health insurance or top-up insurance plans to cover certain medical expenses which are not reimbursed by the Insalud system.
The Spanish healthcare system is one of the best in Europe.
Visiting a doctor in Spain
In general, Spanish GPs see their patients from Monday to Saturday.
As part of the Insalud system, your treating doctor (referring doctor) is appointed by the local health center of your place of residence. However, you can choose another doctor if you are not satisfied with him/her. Waiting times to get an appointment are quite short and consultations are free but also very brief (around 5 minutes).
If you see a doctor from the private sector, consultation fees range from €45 to €70.
Spanish specialist doctors:
In public facilities, you can only see specialists upon written request from your GP who will refer you to the specialist of his/her choice.
As for private facilities, you can see specialists without being referred by your GP. Consultation fees range from €70 to €110 on average.
Being admitted to hospital in Spain
Spanish public hospitals
Hospitalizations in public hospitals are free if you are admitted to the hospital linked to your place of residence. Hospitalizations are free in case of emergency.
Spanish private hospitals
Spanish private hospitals are not necessarily better than public hospitals in terms of quality but waiting times are much shorter.
In case of emergency: call 112. All public and private hospitals have emergency services.
Buying medication in Spain
Drugs are purchased with a prescription and must be bought in a pharmacy. Patients have to pay an out-of-pocket amount which represents around 40% of the drug price. As the government has imposed a cut in prices, drugs are generally less expensive in Spain than in other countries.
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