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Pregnancy in Spain : State Healthcare v Private

By Jo Green - Mon 9th Apr 2012

It only seems two minutes since I was last 6 months pregnant, and here I am once again, 5 years down the line.

I blogged about my pregnancy experience first time round, (Click HERE to read ) which I was reading back on just the other day to compare notes on and see just how much had actually changed.

Firstly, even though we were paying for private medical cover, we found the state service and facilities so good that we actually decided to go ‘all the way’ in the state system. I have heard mixed opinions on their quality of service since, but like most things I would imagine that things will and can vary greatly between individual areas and people.

However, this time, having a little more confidence, we decided that we should use the private medical insurance cover (In other words actually use exactly what we had been paying for all these years !)

The first thing we did on confirming my pregnancy with the test kit from the chemist was to ring the healthcare helpline to find out the exact procedure we should use to get the ball rolling.

So we made the call, and was a little put out to find that there would be a surcharge of between 4 – 20 Euros for each time we used a service – despite the fact that we had all been paying full cover as a family for 5 years plus.

The second thing was that they had to actually confirm what I already as good as knew and send me to a Gynaecologist. But like all things in Spain, I had to use one of their ‘approved Gynaecologists’ – the nearest of which was about 30km away !

Despite turning up at the appointed hour I had to wait 1hr 20 mins for my appointment ! – I never waited that long when the healthcare was free !

Although the offices (as it was, as opposed to a clinic) was comfortable, and the Gynaecologist insisted on giving me a full scan for each and every visit I made (which at every 2 to 3 weeks rakes up the surcharge costs !)

On top of that there is the monthly blood test (a different town, 20kms in the opposite direction) and Urine test (Yet another clinic in yet another town ! – can’t all this stuff just be done in a general GP’s clinic and save me the time and petrol money ?)

Furthermore, after my 3rd scan, my Gynaecologist said that I should really go and see an expert ‘because of my age’ (I’m 37 !) – which meant a trip to the city of Valencia about 90km away !

The first time I went alone as I was meeting a friend for lunch, but the second time I took Mr Grumpy with me, who as always managed to moan about being dragged to Valencia...

Not a straightforward process in itself, but to add insult to injury, just 2 days later I had a phone call from the Valencia clinic demanding 120 Euros for the 2 x scans !

On calling the health insurance helpline I found that yes, I was covered for such treatment but should have called for authorisation beforehand. I was confused – hadn’t I been ‘referred’ by one of their affiliated Specialists ? .... Ah, yes – but some treatment is covered automatically, and some isn’t - so I should always call them to double check !

This is ridiculous.

On top of the fact that I am making an average of 3 to 4 separate appointments to separate e specialists in separate towns, paying a surcharge for each appointment that I am kept waiting for, paying the fuel costs etc.... I am also expected to call the helpline to authorise each treatment that I am being referred for (and paying for – twice, if you include the surcharge !)

Although I can’t deny the quality of the (medical) treatment has been good, the birth had better be nothing short of easy and pain free in luxurious surroundings, or else I want my money back !

Comment on this Blog

I think my experience was so awful in the old Denia hospital as it was Christmas Day, baby was six weeks early and we'd only been here a month and was looking forward to having him in the nearby private hospital but it wasn't too be. I was having to share a room with an extremely large and loud Spanish family having had my baby taken from me because he was so poorly. As I say though my two experiences of the new Denia hospital were amazing, with my third baby it was just a midwife and nurse present, dimmed lighting and a perfect birth (being 10cm dilated when I got there helped!) :)
Sara - Tue, 10th Apr 2012
I had my first in (the old) Denia Hospital too, and although the facilities could only be described as 'very tired' at best, I could not fault the heathcare (before and after) at any step of the way. Everything was planned and scheduled, as opposed to it being so fragmented in the private system by comparison.
Jo Green - Tue, 10th Apr 2012
Having had three babies here in Spain and experienced both Private and Public it has to be public all the way. First baby, very very poorly and private couldn't cope although the birth experience at the old Denia hospital and after care for me was awful or baby was fantastic and even better in Alicante where he spent a month in neonatal. Next two babies at the new Denia hospital and I cannot fault a thing, the private rooms are comfortable, spacious and clean, the staff were fantastic - even the food was good :) Quite tempted to do it again!
Sara - Tue, 10th Apr 2012

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