People living and working away from their country of birth do not necessarily get health insurance coverage through their employers. Expat health insurance in Spain plans help such individuals get coverage for their healthcare needs while abroad.
It may seem that private health insurance is unnecessary when you are in a developed country with an efficient public healthcare system. However, that does not apply to all industrialized countries—Spain, for example. If you are about to start working in Spain, especially for six months or longer, you will be required to have expat health insurance.
The Spanish Healthcare System Is Good, But ...
If you are going to be in Spain for longer than 90 days and are not required to pay for social security, then you definitely need private health insurance coverage. You will not receive your residence visa otherwise.
The General Healthcare Act (1986) is the basis of the Spanish public healthcare system, which is known as the Sistema Nacional de Salud (SNS). It guarantees universal healthcare coverage for all Spanish citizens. The Spanish public healthcare system is among the top 10 in the world.
With the majority of Spanish nationals to take care of, the SNS is overloaded. If you are residing in Spain as a self-employed person or as an employed resident, then you need to contribute to the Spanish social security system. In that case, you will enjoy SNS coverage. There are many challenges, though.
Buy Expat Health Insurance to Get Your Residence Visa in Spain
If you are a non-EU citizen planning to reside in Spain, you need to purchase Expat health insurance before you apply for your visa. Spanish immigration mentions that you need appropriate private health insurance coverage to apply for a residence visa.
An expat health insurance plan is necessary for the following types of residence visa applications:
- Non-Lucrative Visa: Necessary if you plan to live in Spain for longer than 90 days without working there.
- Investor Permit: Also known as the Golden Visa, this is the residency permit you need as an investor in Spain.
- Entrepreneur Visa: If you want to be in Spain for longer than 90 days as an entrepreneur, you will need private expat health insurance coverage to get your visa.
- Residence Permit for Students Searching for a Job: The visa application will have to provide proof that you have private healthcare coverage valid in Spain.
Expat Health Insurance Features Necessary for A Spanish Residence Visa
Make sure to purchase an expat health insurance plan that matches the specific criteria you need to get a residence visa in Spain. To get your residence visa in Spain under any of the above categories, you need a private expat health plan with the following features:
- It must be valid for the entire duration of your stay
- It must be valid anywhere in Spain
- It must be renewable if you plan to apply for the renewal of your residence visa
You Need to Have Expat Health Insurance Even If You Get SNS Coverage
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2018 report on the Spanish SNS mentions that private spending in healthcare has been on the rise in the country. That is because of the out-of-pocket expenses not covered under SNS.
You will save yourself from unnecessary medical expenses if you already have expat health insurance.
Purchase Expat Health Insurance: SNS Doesn’t Cover Everything
Whether you are a Spanish national or an expat resident in Spain eligible for SNS coverage, some out-of-pocket expenses are inevitable. SNS does not cover costs incurred for ambulances, dental health, and pharmacy costs. If your expat insurance covers all these, you won’t need to incur out-of-pocket expenses while in Spain.
Buy Expat Insurance to Avoid Long Waits
The SNS is undoubtedly an efficient and high-quality healthcare system. However, it is not free from long waiting times for specific health needs. The WHO 2018 report mentions that the doctor-to-patient ratio decreased to 298 per 100,000 in 2017. The EU average is 340 doctors per 100,000 residents in the population. This leads to overloading and causes long delays.
Consider this list of average waiting times for different healthcare needs under the SNS:
- Specialist appointment: longer than 60 days
- Specialized treatment like prostate removal: longer than 60 days
- Hip replacement: more than 120 days
This waiting time is motivating some Spanish nationals to seek private treatment options also. You, as a foreigner, surely don’t need to be trapped in the overloaded public healthcare system.
Expand Your Choice of Doctors and Hospitals with Expat Health Insurance
The limited number of doctors and hospitals available to you under the SNS may prove problematic, particularly if you have special medical care needs. Enjoy accessing private practitioners and private hospitals of your choice through expat health insurance.
Enjoy the Privilege of Accessing an English-Speaking Doctor
This is more important than it appears at first. A language barrier can cause severe problems in healthcare communication.
Under SNS coverage, you may not get access to an English-speaking physician since your choice will remain limited. With private expat healthcare coverage, you can look for an English-speaking doctor.
Choose from Expat Medical Insurance Plans
You may be a resident of the U.S., for instance, and you work may require you to travel to other parts of the world, with a significant duration of stay in Spain. If you’re likely to travel to many different countries around the world, it would be best to take advantage of a global coverage plan.
If you know which countries you’re likely to visit, you may not need global coverage. There are two options in such a situation: You may opt for a plan that excludes or includes the U.S.
Your employee health plan may cover you when you return for a while to the U.S. for work or on vacation. In such a case, you are likely to prefer global expat medical insurance, excluding the U.S. On the other hand, you may not have an employee health plan to cover you in the U.S. while you live and work in Spain. Choose a health plan that includes the U.S. in this situation.
Buy Expat Health Insurance and Stay Secured
When in a foreign land for longer than 90 days, having your private insurance gives you a sense of security. That is the ultimate bonus of purchasing expat health insurance.