Expats choose Spain for free quality healthcare

Published:  18 Mar at 6 PM
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As the NHS sinks even lower and more restrictions are placed on expats returning to access its services, Spanish healthcare available to expats is evolving to a high standard.

Following the Spanish heathcare system’s ranking higher than the NHS with the World Health Organisation, more and more UK citizens are opting to spend their retirement years in Spain. For older expats, accessing high quality healthcare is high on the list of essentials for a retirement destination, with the Spanish system now regarded as one of the world’s best.

British retirees who receive the UK state pension will receive exactly the same level of healthcare as do Spanish nationals enrolled in the country’s national insurance scheme. Reciprocal arrangements between EU member states allow specific benefits such as healthcare to be transferred, giving equal access to non-citizen residents.

The system is easy to access, provided the UK-issued S1 form has been received. This is needed to allow newcomers to register with their local Spanish social service office and get the necessary accreditation letter allowing them to register with a local GP. A health card will then be issued. At present, the health card also entitles UK expats to free NHS treatment should they decide to use a British hospital.

Expats working in Spain can get state healthcare via the health card, simply by registering it at a local healthcare centre. A high standard of private healthcare is also available, although it’s wise to have health insurance as charges can by high for complicated health issues. Early retirees without a UK government pension or a job are not eligible for free healthcare in Spain, and will need private health insurance. Private clinics and hospitals concentrate in areas with a high number of expat residents, and offer a high level of care and well as English-speaking staff.

A cheaper option to private healthcare was recently launched by the Spanish government. It’s a pay-in scheme involving monthly contributions of 60 euros for those under 65 years of age and 157 euros for those over 65. To qualify, expats must have lived in Spain for at least one year, are unable to get a heath card and are not getting heathcare cover from the UK.
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