Private Healthcare in Spain – What You Need to Know

MiMove on 2021-04-15

Do you live partly or permanently in Spain? Are you considering moving here? What applies then when it comes to private health insurance? In this week’s blog post, we go over the fundamental things you need to know to pick the right health insurance.

The Spanish Healthcare System

Spain, like most countries in Europe, has universal healthcare through social security. Despite it, between 27-40% of Spaniards have private health care (a higher percentage in big cities).

Although the Spanish health system works well, for certain visits, like special consultations, high-tech examinations, and clinical trials – the waiting can take up to three months. We see this problem mainly in the big cities.

The family doctor in public health centers decides whether the patient needs consultation with a specialist or not. This means that you cannot have direct access to a specialist doctor whenever you want through the state health service.

Therefore, it can be an advantage to have private health insurance that allows you to get to the doctor faster, but it also gives you more options. The biggest benefits of private health insurance are that you can avoid waiting lists and consult directly with the specialist without having to go through the family doctor first.

How does it work?

Private health insurance in Spain works in the same way as all other types of insurance. By paying a monthly subscription you get access to smoother healthcare. It guarantees health coverage as described in the policy when you sign up for it.

What is also stated in the policy is exactly what is covered when you need care. These costs can be for medical, clinical, pharmaceutical, or hospital stays.

Which insurances are the best?

You can get information about the right health insurance online and there are several to choose from. Those who have received the best reviews in 2021 include:

  • AXA
  • MF
  • DKV

The most popular are ASC, FIATC, Clinicum and Generali.

Which health insurance should you choose?

Before you decide to take out private health insurance, you should take into account various factors in order to be able to choose the one that best suits your needs. 

Medical Center Near You

It is important that the insurance company you choose has its own or subsidized centers near you so that you can get there easily and comfortably.

Your Profile

The insurance companies have different offers and prices for different profiles. Should the whole family be insured? Are you planning on extending the family and need to see a gynecologist often? Are you 30+ or 65+? Are you self-employed or do you work for a company that may already have a partnership with an insurance company? Depending on your situation and profile, there are insurance companies with better terms and prices for you.

Regular or Sporadic Visits

If you know that you need medical care and consultations more regularly, you will probably have to pay a little more than someone who does not need medical care very often. There are better insurances for both of those who need to go often and for those who do not visit the doctor more than possibly 1-2 times a year or even less.

Subscriptions and Prices

The price is of course very important as your budget needs to be enough for a lot of things. To find out which health insurance provides the most for your money, it is a good idea to talk to a specialized insurance agent who can tell you which is the best health policy for your specific profile and needs.

There are many campaigns that can make a great difference between one insurance and another. Remember that there is no “one best health insurance in 2021”, but there is always certain health insurance that best suits each person.

By contacting an agent, you can also resolve any doubts and know exactly what type of insurance you need.

Remember to get answers to the following questions when you sign insurance:

  • If / how much you need to pay per visit or consultation (“copago” is the name of this cost in Spanish).
  • What exactly and up to what cost does the insurance cover and what limitations does it have?
  • If you have a subscription for primary care, hospital, and surgery.
  • What pricing policy does the insurance company have – how much will it cost you per month?
  • Is dental insurance included and what applies in these cases?

Suggestions for health insurance agents:

For foreigners in Spain (in English):

Compare different insurance companies online or call:

Include Dental Insurance in the Health Insurance

Dental insurance that is included in health insurance normally covers basic services such as tooth extraction, cleaning, simple fillings, X-rays, etc. Check with your agent or the insurance company directly about what applies.

Experience from Swedes in Spain

Some of us Swedes at MiMove who have lived in Spain for a long time have experienced both state and private healthcare. Universal health care is alright and is usually perceived to be better in smaller cities. You usually have to wait for about 1-2 hours before you get to see the doctor in the emergency room, but on a bad day, we’ve waited for over 8 hours (in a big city). The doctors have been differently responsive, empathetic, and helpful depending on the person rather than location. Read more about Spanish healthcare in general from our previous blog post here.

In private healthcare, we have experienced a more even pattern with good and fast service. The expertise is usually a bit higher, it is smooth and easy to book an appointment, no queues and you get a lot for your money. Significantly more people speak English, unlike in state care, where normally only the doctors speak English and it can be difficult to make oneself understood by nurses and receptionists if you don’t speak any Spanish. 

Wherever you live, of course, you want to feel safe. If you are thinking of moving to Spain but are worried about healthcare, you do not need to be – private health insurance is a safer solution.


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