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My experience of private healthcare in Spain

By Jo Green - Thu 14th Apr 2011

We were fortunate in getting jobs almost as soon as we first arrived in Spain, however, that was over six years ago and I'm sure it wouldn't be the same these days.

Anyway, having a contracted job meant a social security number, which also meant being eligible for free Spanish healthcare from the state. All we needed to do was apply for our SIPS card. At the same time, we also found a good deal for private health insurance , and decided to go with that as well. Although we were both (relatively) young and health, we just wanted the peace of mind that we would be 'properly looked after' if and when we ever did get ill, and the fact that English speaking medical care was available in a number of Hospitals and medical centres close by was attractive.

It was shortly after that I found I was pregnant, and the first step for me was to pop to the Farmacia to get a test-kit, but before I knew it they had kindly made an informal appointment for me (or so I thought...) at the medical centre in Town.

To cut a painfully long story as short as I can, I found myself starting my pre-natal care in the state system, rather than going private, but promised myself if I ever felt out of my depth with the language, or was not happy in any way with the treatment that I was getting, I would switch to the private scheme.

That time never came, and we sailed through the whole pregnancy and beyond within the state system.

So 5 years down the line we were still paying our private health insurance, but were fortunate enough never to have needed it. We didn't even know what the procedure was for if and when we ever needed to see a Doctor !

I had a kind of lump on the back of my shoulder for quite a while, and whilst it wasn't uncomfortable, my OH persuaded me to have it checked out, and we decided that as it was nothing urgent nor serious, to use it as a kind of 'test case' for the Private system.

I rang the Medical Centre, to check that they accepted our Insurance plan (they did) and the phone was answered by the Doctor himself (who unbeknown to me previously, I knew as his wife was my Midwife and lived locally to us ) who asked the nature of the problem, and asked me to pop down to the surgery that same afternoon. Now, I'm used to Spanish way of doing things by now and being able to act at such short notice caught me out. We settled on an appointment the following.

I turned up for my appointment straight from work and, although on our agreed time, found that he had stayed late into his lunch hour in order to see me. He found the problem was just a cyst and said that I could either have it removed or live with it - no real issue either way. I decided to have it removed and no sooner had I said the words he was on the phone calling his friend, the surgeon, at the Private Hospital down the road to make an appointment for a consultation with him.

Could I see him tomorrow morning ? - This was getting weird now...

I made the consultation and had a cup of tea with the surgeon and discussing the nature of the problem and the procedure. He wanted me to call back in two days time to undergo a general aesthetic and have the cyst removed. I left the clinic after just 15 mins and called the OH on his mobile - he had still not found a parking space I had been that quick.

Two days later I arrived at the Hospital at the designated time to find a private dressing room and shower waiting for me and the surgeon and two ( TWO ) nurses to help me get comfortable and do the procedure.

Honestly, I have had a harder time cutting my toenails.

Two further days later I had an appointment to go back to my original, local clinic, to have the dressing changed and then 10 days later to go back to the Hospital to get the stitches removed and the all clear given.

I know it was no big deal, and hardly classed as a serious operation by any means, but going private really was a walk in the park.

I don't want to make that seem as though I am criticising the Spanish state healthcare in any way - I'm not - I have never found any problem with them at in the slightest (the fact that I had my baby in the state system whilst paying Private should show that), but the Private healthcare that I received really was in a league of it's own and I won't hesitate to call them if and when I have anything more serious wrong with me than flu in future.

Comment on this Blog

Thank you for such a great article. I have really enjoyed reading this blog and I will be returning to find out more in the future about Private Health Insurance.
Anonymous - Wed, 13th Mar 2013
What kind of eye surgery are you talking about Dan ? Also - Public or Private care ? Which area / region ?
Jo Green - Tue, 12th Jun 2012
What is the situation like for Eye Surgery in Spain ?
Dan - Tue, 12th Jun 2012
A total of 24 Euros was added to the subsequent monthly bill, which I assume worked out to 8 Euros for each of the 3 appointments that I had at the hospital itself (but not at the medical centre). I have since used the Dentist on my cover for a check-up and was charged 8 Euros for this aswell.
Jo Green - Thu, 28th Apr 2011
Interesting comparison. Thanks for sharing it. Private healthcare care is definitely faster, that's for sure. Can you tell us if you charged any out-of-pocket expenses for visits, appointments, procedures, or follow-ups?
Madridman - Thu, 28th Apr 2011

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