“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” – This is one way to stay healthy while living and working abroad in Spain. Although this delicious fruit full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals can help you to avoid going to the doctor, there might be some health issues where the apple a day won`t be sufficient anymore. Therefore, we would like to help you to better understand the Spanish healthcare system and how to get access to it.

The following article will focus on EU citizens who are employed by a company in Spain.

Who is covered?

All employees or self-employed workers who pay social security taxes in Spain are entitled to receive Spanish health cover.

How to obtain it?

After receiving the NIE number (check: how to get a NIE here) you have to register yourself at the  General Social Security Fund (Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social ) in order to receive your social security number.  Once registered there a monthly percentage of around 4.7% (2017) will be automatically deducted from your gross salary and your employer will contribute another, bigger, part to it. This entitles you to the Spanish healthcare.

How do I get the healthcare card?

To obtain the “tarjeta sanitaria” in Barcelona, which you will need to not pay fees when you visit the hospital or doctors, you have to be registered first of all in the city hall in Barcelona. This process is called “empadronarse” and the document you will receive “certificado de empadronamiento”. Find more information about it here: http://www.barcelona-metropolitan.com/living/registering-as-a-citizen-in-barcelona/

Once you have been registered successfully in the city hall and you received your social security and NIE number you must go to the closest health care center (Centro de Atención Primaria = CAP) to the address you are registered in the city hall. Here you can find your nearest CAP in Barcelona: http://catsalut.gencat.cat/es/ciutadania/centres-sanitaris/

Summary of documents required:

You will receive the card within 2-4 weeks via post.

How to get an appointment?

Also without the card, you can go already to your CAP close by to make an appointment with a general doctor. If you need treatments from a specialist you must ask a doctor from your CAP who will refer you to him or her.

What is covered?

The public healthcare system in Spain covers treatments from doctors and care at hospitals as well as 40% of the cost of prescription drugs.

What is not covered?

Dental health services in Spain are not covered by the public care system and must be paid on your own. Also, 60% of the price of the prescription drugs must be paid by the employee. Also, the card does not cover you outside of Spain. For this, you would have to apply for a European healthcare card called Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea. Here you can apply for it: http://www.seg-social.es/Internet_1/Trabajadores/PrestacionesPension10935/Asistenciasanitaria/DesplazamientosporE11566/TSE2/index.htm#128805

Stay healthy!