I get regular questions regarding the health care system in Spain and what type of insurance is available. This weighs heavily on the minds of retires as we get older. The good thing is that the Health care system in Spain is quite good and affordable medical insurance widely available. Here are some details about our experience.
It is clear that if you spend 3 months or less in Spain, you should secure Emergency Travel Insurance from your home country. Some credit cards or Group Insurance will cover you for 2 or 3 weeks but for a longer stay, you need extra coverage.
However, if you are planning to spend more than 3 months in Spain, you need to secure Medical Coverage from Spain. As you know, to be able to spend more than 3 months in Spain, you need to apply for the Residence Permit called TIE. One of the specific requirements for the TIE is to have secured Medical Insurance from a Spanish Insurance provider which will cover you for the essential medical services normally provided by the National Health Insurance. Spanish Insurance companies have a special product designed to specifically qualify for the Residence Visa.
In 2017, when we applied for the Residence Visa, my husband Terry and I contacted several insurance companies and compared plans. As former financial advisors, we are used to comparing the main components of Health Insurance. I am 58 and Terry is 63. Our main concern was to get coverage with a reputable company, and coverage that would not expire at a certain age. Most insurance quotes we received were immediately eliminated when we saw that they had a maximum coverage age of 80, 75 or even as early as 69! Reading the fine print is essential in comparing insurance coverage. The important clauses often are deceptively showing at the very bottom in the finest print allowable.
We selected Sanitas because it was the right choice for us. Sanitas had first been recommended by a Canadian couple who live full time in Nerja and had favorable experience with the company and its representative. Besides offering excellent coverage, once you are insured, Sanitas insurance has no expiry age. This is a very important clause because as you age can develop pre-existing conditions which will render you uninsurable.
With this type of medical insurance you can expect to get coverage similar to what a Spaniard would get on their National Health Care system. You can go see doctors and receive medical care in private clinics or hospitals. They perform complete analysis as required most often on site cutting on wait time. Most plans will also cover dental cleaning and offer discount for other dental procedures. My experience has been minor but surprisingly good. The clinics will always have a doctor and staff onsite who speaks perfect English. You can google Sanitas and get the full list of what their plans covers. I am NOT affiliated in any way with this company. I do NOT receive ANY compensation for any products or services from this blog. I am simply sharing our personal experience in an attempt to help other non-Europeans.
You can pay monthly or annually for this health insurance and benefit from a small discount if you pay annually. Our annual premium is currently 2760€. The premiums go up with age. This year the premium went up quite a bit more than usual due to Covid I presumed but when I mentioned to the service representative that I was contemplating going to market to see what other options we had, they offered a 25% discount! It pays to do your homework and negotiate a little 😃.
Most insurers will also have some coverage while travelling abroad or going back to your home country but it is minimal. Ours is up to 12,000€ per year if no more than 3 months away from Spain. So, when travelling, it still is imperative to get additional insurance coverage. Please note that like most national health care systems, this does not cover prescription drugs but most drugs are usually a lot less expensive in Spain than in North America.
Please remember that there are a lot of good insurance companies in Spain and the best coverage will depend on your age and needs. Good luck in your research!
3 Comments Add yours
Thank you so much for doing all of this great research for all of us future expats. It’s super overwhelming to say the least. Can you tell me what the hospital situation is? For example in Nerja, is there a Sanitas private hospital that you would go to or can you use that insurance in any hospital nearby. We have private hospitals in Mexico where we just pay as we go versus using the IMSS public system but they are not affiliated to any insurers.
Thank you for sharing your insight . Hope to see you and Terry in Spain sooner then later
In Nerja and most towns, there are private clinics where insured or non-insured people can see a doctor, dentist and receive treatments. It can also include a lab on site. In Nerja, the clinic is Vithas Salud. It accepts all insurance companies insured card or payment if not insured. It also has a small hospital. The larger Vithas hospitals are in larger cities like Malaga. My experience has been excellent and very fast to see a doctor and receive lab results. All confidential results are also accessible online with log in and password on their website.