Planning a trip to Spain? If you reside in the UK and are going to visit Spain or even plan to live there, you want to be sure you have your health cover, covered. As a citizen of the European Economic Area (EEA) you are entitled to make use of the European Health Card (EHIC) system so get any necessary medical treatment you require in Spain.
What is the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
The EHIC provides you with access to necessary medical treatment you may require while travelling anywhere in the EEA. You receive the same level of treatment as you would were you insured as a national of Spain and at the same cost.
Anyone normally resident in the UK is entitled to an EHIC and healthcare elsewhere in the EEA, even where they have pre-existing medical conditions. You can apply for an EHIC under the UK system so long as you’re ordinarily resident in the UK – you meet this condition even if you live in Spain for some months throughout the year.
What am I covered for with my EHIC in Spain?
When you have an EHIC you’re covered for all medical treatment deemed to be ‘necessary’ while you’re travelling or residing in Spain – so long as your EHIC remains valid. Whether treatment is necessary will generally be decided by the doctor treating you. However, there are certain restrictions on when you may receive necessary treatment, for example if you travel to Spain simply to receive medical treatment – this will not usually be covered by your EHIC.
It’s possible that necessary treatment will include specialist treatment you may require or any routine treatment you need for an ongoing illness. It’s also possible to receive dialysis or oxygen treatment, so long as this is arranged by your doctor in advance of your travel.
What do I have to pay for under the Spanish system?
The medical care you receive will be on the same grounds as Spanish nationals, however the Spanish system differs from that of the UK. Spanish nationals are required to pay between 10% and 60% of their prescription costs. Generally if you’re below the legal age of retirement you will be required to pay 50% of your prescription costs when you’re an EHIC holder. Those of pension age are only required to pay 10%.
Do I need an EHIC?
While many accident and illness expenses may be covered by insurance, it’s still important that you apply for an EHIC before you travel. Travel insurance may not cover some of the essential treatment you require or may disqualify you from a pay-out on the grounds of your age or a pre-existing medical condition. If you’re travelling to Spain in the near future, apply for your EHIC today – it’s free!