How is Social Security Healthcare for Foreigners in Spain

How is Social Security healthcare for foreigners in Spain

When an immigrant arrives in Spain, one of the first questions they may ask themselves is whether they can receive healthcare if they need it. Well, healthcare for foreigners is regulated by the Organic Law on Rights and Freedoms of Foreigners in Spain and their Social Integration.

According to this law, “foreigners have the right to medical care as provided for in current health legislation.” This means that these individuals can receive care from a medical professional, and the government has implemented a recent royal decree-law with the main objective of restoring public and free healthcare for everyone.

With this change, generally any person residing in the country, whether national or foreigner, will be able to access Spanish public healthcare. However, if you want to delve deeper into this topic, we invite you to continue reading this article, as it will surely be very useful.

Previously, individuals who were foreigners, if they did not have the corresponding documentation, did not have access to Spain’s healthcare system. This was except for pregnant women, minors, or other cases of urgent care for adults. 

However, some autonomous communities established their own mechanisms to attend to those individuals who were in an unregulated situation in the country.

So, the right to healthcare is separate from Social Security contributions. And what does this mean? 

Well, it means that it is not necessary to be the holder of a health card or be registered in a specific place to be attended to at a health center.

Also, extending this coverage to foreigners benefits Spanish citizens who have never previously contributed to Social Security.

The difference between private and public healthcare in Spain

Spain’s public health system, known as the SNS (“sistema nacional de salud“), is one of the better rated in the world. However, it does not cover every expense.

For instance, dental visits, purchasing medications from the pharmacy, or undergoing specialized treatments are usually not covered by the public system.

Having private health insurance offers more coverage and faster access to procedures than the public system. 

Receiving healthcare in Spain as a foreigner

Full access to healthcare in Spain for foreigners seeks to ensure that anyone, regardless of their situation, can receive care from a medical professional. 

However, a series of measures have been created to prevent potential abuses in the public healthcare system.

In which situation does a foreigner not qualify for public healthcare in Spain?

A foreigner does not qualify for public healthcare in Spain if they have not resided in the country for a period of more than 90 days. 

This is done to prevent access by foreigners who already have medical coverage in their country of origin and who could misuse this service.

However, despite this rule, undocumented immigrants also have access to healthcare. For this, a report from social services certifying the lack of minimum resources is required. 

Regarding the acquisition of prescription medications, this group must pay the same amount as Spaniards with incomes below 18,000 euros, that is, 40% of the total cost.

Another aspect regulated in healthcare is the issue of organ transplants to prevent medical tourism. People wishing to be placed on the waiting list to receive this type of intervention need to demonstrate a period of residence of more than two years in the country.

Who is required to apply for private health insurance?

In 2013 the law governing the Spanish Health Care System underwent some changes, which then affected immigration in Spain. 

Following this period, many visas and permits in Spain now mandate the procurement of private health insurance. 

Expats in Spain, particularly ones who are unemployed, must demonstrate that they won’t impose significant financial burdens on the Spanish government in the event of an accident. 

Thus, they need a private health insurance contract. 

These are the visas and residence permits that require private health insurance: 

Where is Spain’s healthcare recognized?

It is worth noting that our country’s universal public healthcare is only recognized within its borders, so this right does not extend elsewhere. Foreigners residing in Spain will have to comply with the requirements established by each autonomous community if they wish to receive medical service and healthcare.

If you want more information about the Spanish healthcare system and its care for foreigners, remember that you can always turn to any lawyer in our firm.

We will be happy to assist you and answer all your questions whenever you wish.

Get in touch with our lawyers and let us guide you step by step:

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How is Social Security healthcare for foreigners in Spain