When planning a holiday or business trip abroad, most people don’t expect to get ill while they are away. Luckily, most of the time, there is no need to request medical assistance during your stay in Spain. However, sometimes the unexpected does happen, so it’s good to be prepared – just in case.
In order to access state health care, travellers from other European countries need to bring their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). If you are visiting Spain from a non-EU country, you should bring with you a GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card). These cards will enable you to receive any medically necessary treatment in Spain on the same basis as a Spanish citizen, i.e. free of charge or at a reduced cost.
Please be aware, that an EHIC or GHIC card does not replace healthcare travel insurance. The medical facilities in holiday resorts are often private and will therefore invoice you for any treatment received.
Also, there are certain services that are not covered by an EHIC or GHIC, for example, mountain rescue or medical repatriation (being flown back to your home country), both of which are very costly!
If you want to access state healthcare with your EHIC or GHIC, you must make sure that the doctor or hospital you consult is part of the public healthcare system.
Some hospitals and health centres offer both, private healthcare and state healthcare. You will therefore need to be clear that you wish to be treated as part of the state healthcare system and not as a private patient. Any costs you incur for private healthcare are non-refundable and not covered by your EHIC / GHIC.
Should you require hospital treatment, you will need to show your EHIC / GHIC on admission, otherwise, you will be charged as a private patient.
Travellers from Great Britain can find more information on the GOV.UK website.
When seeking medical assistance via your hotel or tour operator, you will often be signposted to private healthcare providers. Please be aware, that you will be invoiced for any treatment you receive, as your EHIC or GHIC will not be accepted. If you have private healthcare travel insurance, you will need to keep the invoice and send it to your insurance company for reimbursement. Please be aware that, depending on your insurance cover, you may need to pay a certain amount of excess.