Visiting the Doctor in Spain



Visiting a doctor in Spain will start with a choice between a private or public practitioner.

Spain has a national tax-based health care system called INSALUD or Instituto Nacional de Gestion Sanitaria, which subsidizes the entire cost of medical treatments of all its members. Anybody who contributes to this national insurance system will be able to benefit from the scheme, including all legally documented expats.

Some foreigners, however, may also take out private or international health insurance in Spain while being enrolled in the public health system. Private health insurers will normally have their own list of hospitals where their policies are accepted. This is viewed as an advantage, considering the long waiting lines one would normally encounter in public hospitals or clinics. Usually, people who visit doctors not enlisted with their private insurers can still get up to 80% coverage through refund.

To visit any of the public doctors in Spain, a resident of Spain has to be enlisted in his local town hall or Ayuntamiento and have a Spanish social security number. He will then be assigned a public GP or General Practitioner known locally as a medico de cabecera. EU citizens may use their EHIC card when seeking treatment from a public doctor. Those who prefer to consult a private GP can go directly to a hospital or clinic that is in their insurance provider's list. In both cases, everyone has to see a GP first before they can be referred to a specialist as needed.

Obtaining health care may be a little complicated but with the high quality of medical care offered by any clinic or hospital in Spain, appreciating the system becomes easy.