Healthcare in Barcelona



The Spanish healthcare system has been dubbed as one of the best in the world, and Barcelona lives up to the reputation. Expats bound to the beautiful capital of the Catalonia region will soon find out that both of the public and private healthcare sectors offer nothing but high-quality medical services to locals and expats alike. 

For nearly two-an-a-half decades, the Spanish government has regionalized its health care system with 17 autonomous services anchored on five key points including universal coverage, integration of all health care providing networks, the creation of autonomous health services, a  revamped and more versatile primary care policy as well as tax and social security fund-based public financing. Residents of Barcelona are under the Catalan public healthcare system which is also known as CatSalut, which offers heavily subsidised services to all the Spanish citizens and those holding a health card (Targeta Sanitaria Individual or TSI). 

Eligibility to Public Healthcare 

Public hospitals and centres provide health care through the Instituto Nacional de Gestión Sanitaria, which is a tax-based scheme that permits care seekers to choose their primary physician who gives them access to the comprehensive benefits of the system. Almost all people in the city use this scheme for their basic needs but will have to wait at least a day to be able to have a consultation with a doctor. INGS provides those medical services free, except in a few cases. Hence, patients need not incur personal expenses.  

EU citizens should first apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This allows the bearer a reduced cost and sometimes free health care in all EU countries. This card is only valid for state provided services and not for private hospitals or treatments. For non-EU citizens who are permanent residents in Spain and are paying into the Spanish social security system can obtain their EHIC in Spain. In order to register, a Spanish social security number is required as well as a registration at the local town hall (Ayuntamiento). The registration paper must be less than three months old. Social Security is availed thru the employer (a requirement for them) or can be directly applied by self-employed workers. 

Expats from non-EU countries may also avail of free medical care provided they have private medical insurance before signing up with Cat Salut, Barcelona's public health care system. 

Visiting a Doctor 

The Catalan Public Health System or CatSalut (Servei Catala de la Salut) requires one to register with a doctor before using the doctor's services. To find and register with a doctor, visit the nearest Centre d'Atencio Primera (CAP). 

Because medical care is free when obtained from a public institution, the volume of patients is often too large, and everyone must bear with long waiting lines to be attended to by the physician. For this reason, many have resorted to private care providers. Although public and private physicians may provide equal health care quality, people are usually able to see their private doctors at a small fraction of the time it takes to the lineup for a public practitioner. For expats, in particular, the private sector has also become more convenient as English is the most often used language in insurance companies' affiliate hospitals, thus, reducing the language barrier which could be a factor in delivering the right care to a patient by mostly Spanish-speaking staff in public hospitals. 

Medical Services and Hospitals 

The public health system is considered to be excellent. There are no outside expenses except for prescription medicine. Dental care and optometry are also not covered but not considered costly. There is also private health insurance, and about 10% of the city population buys into it. The CAP is a public surgery and provides emergency treatment. The surgeries are open from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm, and there is a 24-hour help line: 902 111 444. Some of the most prominent hospitals in Barcelona are: 

Carrer de Villarroel, 170, 08036 Barcelona

Tel: +34 932 27 54 00

Passeig de Sant Joan de Déu, 2, 08950 Esplugues de Llobregat, Barcelona

Tel: +34 932 53 21 00

Carrer de la Feixa Llarga, s/n, 08907 L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona

Tel: +34 932 60 75 00

Passeig de la Vall d'Hebron, 119-129, 08035 Barcelona

Tel: +34 934 89 30 00 

Medicines and Pharmacies 

Purchasing medicines in Barcelona may require up to 40% out-of-the-pocket expense to supplement insurance. Six of the ten major districts of Barcelona have 24-hour permanent pharmacies including Ciutat Vella, Eixample, Gràcia, Sant Martí, Sants-Montjuïc and Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. Some of the pharmacies found in Barcelona are also listed below: 

  • Farmacia Central CV (8:30am to 9pm)

Via Laietana, 40, 08003 Barcelona

Tel:  +34 932 68 45 54

  • Farmàcia Torres (Open 24 hours)

Carrer d'Aribau, 62, 08011 Barcelona

Tel: +34 934 53 92 20

  • Farmàcia del Born (9am to 2pm/4:30pm-8:30pm)

Av. del Marquès de l'Argentera, 5, 08003 Barcelona

Tel: +34 932 52 93 99

  • Farmàcia del Palau (9am-10pm)

La Rambla, 118, 08002 Barcelona

Tel: +34 934 12 13 89

  • Farmàcia Serra Mandri (8:30am to 10pm)

Avinguda Diagonal, 478, 08006 Barcelona

Tel: +34 934 16 12 70