Everybody agrees that good health is our most important asset. We go to great lengths to protect our other assets – cars, homes, etc. – by taking out insurance. But what about our health?
The Spanish state health system offers an excellent standard of care. If you are an EU citizen living in Spain permanently, there are two main ways in which you and your family will be entitled to free health care:
- If you are in receipt of a state or disability pension
- If you are working and contributing to the Spanish social security system either directly or via your employer.
However, you do need to register. Therefore please contact us if you need information and advice about registering for Spanish Social Security.
The European Health Card (which replaced the old E111), is only for UK residents who are in Spain temporarily and their treatment costs are reimbursed by the UK. Additionally, returning to the UK for treatment may no longer be an option. Once you have established residence in Spain you may lose the right to free NHS treatment.
If you live in Spain and are not entitled to free care, private health insurance is an essential. Without it you could find yourself facing substantial, and possibly even financially crippling, medical bills.
Even if you are entitled to state care, there are other things to consider – how long will I have to wait for an appointment and once I have an appointment will I be kept waiting?
But perhaps the most important thing is the language. You may be able to cope quite confidently in your day to day life, but just how confident are you that you can explain the subtleties of your symptoms or understand the diagnosis or treatment that is being prescribed?
Even those entitled to free treatment often opt for private health insurance so they can ensure they will have access to English-speaking doctors. The same applies when choosing a health insurer. Before you take out any form of cover, it is important to understand exactly what you will be covered for and to ensure this meets your needs.
However, arranging insurance – particularly health insurance – is something that we often put off. For many of us health insurance was not a necessity in the past. But if you do wait until you need it, you could find cover difficult to arrange. Clearly, any insurer will not insure you for an illness you already have. You wouldn’t expect an insurer to cover damage to your car if you had already had the accident and health insurance is no different. But you may also find that some insurers, particularly low cost companies, may not accept you at all if you are suffering from a serious illness. Another factor to consider is age. Many companies have an upper age limit for joining.