If you want to buy an apartment in Barcelona and intend to move over from your country of origin to Barcelona, good knowledge of the Spanish healtcare system is requiered. If we talk about the healthcare in Barcelona or Spain we can make a difference between the public and private healthcare. Every inhabitant of Spain that pays premium to the social security system in Spain (Seguridad Social) has the right on public care. With public care in Spain you can go to every public hospital, doctor or specialist .

 Because the quality of the public care is sometimes seen as bad: impersonal care, long waiting periods, hard to get referrals and so on, many foreigners close a private healthcare insurance.

 It is important to know that a private healthcare insurance isn’t a replacement of the public healtcare through Seguridad Social.

 Below is shown in which situations you have right to access public healthcare.

Which situation do you have?

  1. You live and work in Spain
  2. You’re receiving unemployment benefits or pension from your home country and live in  Spain
  3. You live in Spain but work in your home country
  4. You live in Spain but haven’t got work there yet


1. You live and work in Spain

When your registered as an independent or when you work for an employer in Spain, you’re automatically insured with public healthcare. The premium for this is being deducted on your loan or in case of an independent (autonomo) you monthly pay social security in which the premium of the public care is included.

2. You receive unemployment benefits or a pension from your home country and live in Spain

In most of the cases you stay obliged to pay premium of your health insurance in your home country. It is automatically being deducted from your benefits or pension. Important is to ask your health insurance (in your home country) about the most recent and correct information.

3. You live in Spain but work in your home country

You’re an inhabitant of Spain and travel regularly to your home country to work there. Because you work in your home country you’re obliged to be insured there. Ask your health security (in your home country) how to get public healthcare in Spain.

4. You live in Spain but haven’t got work there yet

When you don’t have a job in Spain or aren’t being registered as an independent and also not being insured by your partner, than there is a high chance that you’ll walk around uninsured. The best thing to do then is to close a private health insurance.

Because a lot of situations are just a bit different it is always good to contact your home country insurance organizations for the most correct information.


Seguridad Social

What is Seguridad Social?

The literally translation of Seguridad Social is social security. Social security includes the social healthiness and social protection of people. In Spain the government offers just like in many European countries protection to persons looking at: health, poverty, aging, disability and unemployment.

The ones that have right to social security in Spain are persons that pay wage taxes and autonomos that pay independent taxes.


Register at Seguridad Social

Next to the two groups called above there are also the beneficiaries and the pensionados. They have income from their home country, are residing in Spain and are obliged to pay premium in their home country. Go to the website of http://www.seg-social.es to check what you need to do in your situation.

For a visit to an official organization in Spain you always have to be well prepared. Always contact the relative office and ask which documents you’ll have to bring, this can vary per region.


Centro de salud/ Health centre

After you’ve been registered at the the Seguridad Social, you can go with the proof of registration to a local health centre (Centro Salud) for requesting a pass. This pass (Tarjeta Sanitaria) gives you the right on public medical care. Then there’s also an European pass (Tarjeta sanitaria europea) that you can use if you need to be treated outside of Spain.

Do you want to visit a general practitioner via the public care then you’ll have to go to the Centro de salud in your area. For a visit to a specialist through the public care you’ll always need a referral by the GP of the Centro de salud.


Quality public health care

In practice is visiting a GP at the Centro de salud no fun. Long waiting periods, impersonal care and difficult to get referrals to specialists, this is why many people decide to close a private healthcare insurance.

A private healthcare Insurance overlaps the public care through the Seguridad Social, though the quality of private care would surprise you in a positive way. Dependant of what kind of health care product you close at a private healthcare insurer, you can sometimes be helped by a specialist of your home country.



An important detail of public health care through Seguridad Social is obtaining free medicine. This only counts for children until the age of 2 and pensioned people. If you’re in this group, you’ll get a red colored recipe for medicine, with this you can collect them for free.

Do you belong to the group from age 2 until the age of pension, you’ll get discount on medicine. With a green colored recipe you pay 60% of the total price of the medicine. With hospitalizations medicine are free, as well in public as private hospitals.



Private health care

Are you choosing for more quality, speed and comfort, then you’ll have to choose a private healthcare insurance. Doctors and specialist (also in private hospitals) often speak good English or sometimes German, French and Dutch next to Spanish.

Be aware, a private healthcare insurance isn’t a replacement of the public care by Seguridad Social.


It’s best to close a private healthcare insurance because:

  • Your problem is taken more serious at a private doctor, they take time for every patient
  • You are quicker being referred to a specialist
  • Waiting periods for a visit to the specialist or an operation are much shorter then at Seguridad Social
  • With emergencies you’re helped directly
  • You can count on good service, good medical instrument and a good treatment in a private hospital/clinic


The healthcare insurers aren’t obliged to accept you when you have existing ailments. Existing ailments are almost always (for a certain period or completely) excluded. For treatment of illnesses of existing ailments you can go to the Seguridad Social.

Because of this it’s better to close a private healthcare insurance when you’re still healthy. Ilnesses and ailments that you’ll get after doing this are being reimbursed.


Basic coverages

Every healthcare insurance product reimburses the following coverages:

1. Primary care

2. Treatment and advice by a specialist

3. Hospitalization

4. World coverage with emergencies

5. Preventive researches


1. Primary care

  • Medical care (general practitioner, specialist, midwife and paramedic)
  • Annual cardiologic check-up
  • X-ray photographs
  • Childcare and pediatrics
  • Ambulance transport
  • 24-hour service for emergencies in hospital/clinic and at home
  • Clinical researches


2. Specialists

  • Physiotherapy
  • Gynecology
  • Radiology, allergy tests and so on
  • Psychiatry and psychology
  • Rehabilitation


3. Hospitalization

This covers all healthcare costs: costs for general treatment, nursing, operations and medicine in the hospital. In the hospital they’re offering a single-room with toilet and a bed for an accompanying person.*

* With exception of psychiatric hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) and incubator halls.


4. World coverage with emergencies

World coverage for emergencies during travels of maximum 90 days. Permanent 24-hour service. Coverages under here are:

  •  Urgent treatments (also dentistry)
  • Transport of the ill and wounded
  •  Advanced homecoming by passing away of family members
  •  Medical advice by telephone
  •  Hospitalization (inclusive medical and pharmaceutics costs)


5. Preventive research

There can be used different preventive researches annually for example: colorectal cancer, breast and cervical cancer, prostate cancer and heart and vessel diseases. Also included is a visit to the dentist and dental hygienist every half year and examining the new-born ones until the age of four, inclusive the needed vaccinations.


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