Exploring Healthcare on The Costa Del Sol

If you’re thinking of moving to the Costa Del Sol then you’ll have certainly thought about the implications this will have to your healthcare

Rightly or wrongly, the NHS is considered to be one of the greatest healthcare systems in the world, and many British expats will wonder how the Spanish healthcare system compares. Luckily, we’re here to answer all of your questions.



With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about healthcare on the Costa Del Sol, and the Spanish healthcare system:

The Quality of the Healthcare System in Spain

The first thing to note is that the Spanish healthcare system is very good. In fact, The Bloomberg annual study of the most efficient healthcare systems ranked Spain as the country with the third most efficient healthcare system globally. If you need treatment promptly, therefore, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised!

The Spanish healthcare system is largely funded by Social Security payments: this means that if you work when you move to Spain then you may not need to secure private healthcare at all. However if you don’t work, or if you need medical treatment soon after you move, it may be wise to secure a certain level of private healthcare, and to consider the cost of this when calculating the affordability of your move to Spain.

The good news is that the private healthcare system in the country is world class, offering even quicker access to medical care than the public healthcare system, and treatment in private facilities that will afford you more comfort and privacy than elsewhere.

What Kind of Healthcare Can I Receive as an EU National?

If the UK leaves the EU at the end of October then it’s likely its relationship with Europe, and therefore the kind of healthcare offered to UK residents by other EU countries will change significantly. However, the current situation for UK (and other EU) citizens who need healthcare treatment in Spain will depend on your age.

EU residents in Spain who have reached retirement age are entitled to free healthcare in the country. To prove that you are eligible to receive this benefit, you need to obtain an S1 form. This can be obtained from your country of origin fairly easily. Once this form is completed and approved, you are currently entitled to free healthcare in Spain. To make this process more seamless, and to speed up the paperwork you so often have to complete when you move both house and country, we recommend that you secure and complete you S1 form before you leave the UK.

And if you are under retirement age? Then you will only be entitled to free healthcare if you are working and therefore making regular social security contributions towards the national healthcare system. If you are looking forward to moving to Spain to enjoy a life of leisure at a relaxed pace then we strongly advise that you secure your own private healthcare coverage.

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost of your social security contributions towards your healthcare will depend on how much you earn. The current rates of reduction were set by the Spanish government in 2017: they vary based on whether you are self-employed, or work for an employer who is legally required to ‘top up’ your contributions.

General employees contribute 4.7% of their annual salary to the social security system; employers contribute the equivalent of 23.6% of the employee’s earnings (making a total contribution of 28.3%). Self-employed workers pay between 26.5% and 29.3%, depending on their earning levels.

So what, exactly, does this contribution cover? Well once you start paying into the social security system you will receive a TS1 health card, which you should carry with you at all times and take with you whenever you need medical treatment. This card will cover 100% of the care you receive from doctors within hospital environments, as well as treatment at home (which is considered particularly valuable to the elderly and disabled). It also covers 40-60% of the cost of your prescriptions, depending on whether you are a higher or lower level earner. However, it is important to remember that prescription drugs are relatively inexpensive in Spain, so this payment is unlikely to be as significant as you might expect. Pensioners living in the country only have to pay 10 percent of the cost of their prescription drugs, which goes some way to explain why Spain is such a popular retirement destination for pensioners from all over Europe.

Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Then we’re here to help! Our local property experts will use their years of industry experience and their local knowledge to help you find the right home for you. You’ll be living in your Spanish dream home in no time!