The National Health System in Spain is managed by the Autonomous Regions health services. The public health system includes primary, specialist and hospital care provided in its own centres. Only some private centres have agreements with public health services for taking care of patients. Treatment in the public health system is free of charge. The customers should only pay a share when collecting prescription medicines from a pharmacy.
Dental care is usually not available in the public health system. In Spain, you must pay for private treatment yourself.
You can obtain medically necessary treatment by presenting the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), when you are temporarily staying in Spain, the Canary Islands and in the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You may need such treatment in case of acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth or to a chronic illness. The need for treatment must emerge during the course of your stay. If your illness requires regular treatment while you are temporarily staying abroad, agree with the treatment provider beforehand on the arrangement of treatment. Treatments that need to be arranged in advance include, for example, dialysis, oxygen therapy, specialised care of asthma and chemotherapy as well as echocardiography in chronic autoimmune diseases.
You will receive treatment on the same terms and at the same price as the locals. It is advisable to carry copies of your European Health Insurance Card with you, along with the card itself. If you didn’t have your EHIC with you or it was not accepted, and you were required to pay all the costs of treatment yourself, you might be able to apply for reimbursement from Kela retrospectively.
Be aware that some health centres, doctors and hospitals may also provide appointments for private patients. There are different appointment times for public and private patients, however. If you are asked for a payment, you will not be receiving treatment within the public system; rather private treatment. In that case, the European Health Insurance Card will not be accepted, and you will be charged the full price for treatment.
Information about medical care services can be obtained from Spain´s National Social Security Institute (Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social) local offices or from the offices of the regional health services (Servicio Regional de Salud). You can ask the offices for the contact information of health centres, doctors and hospitals belonging to the public system. You also obtain contact information by area from the Ministry of Health.
In certain parts of Spain, especially in the islands outside mainland Spain, there may be a long journey to treatment services within the public system.
Please note that Gibraltar is part of the United Kingdom and no longer belongs to the European Union after Brexit. However, you may continue to use the European Health Insurance Card for medically necessary treatment while temporarily staying in Gibraltar. A passport is currently not accepted as a certificate of right to treatment if the treatment has been provided on or after 1 January 2021.
You will be able to access a general practitioner (medico de familia) or paediatrician (pediatra) directly when you seek treatment at a health centre (centro sanitario or centro de salud) or at the consulting office (consultorio) of a doctor within the public system. You can see a specialist if you have a general practitioner´s referral. Make sure that the doctor treating you belongs to Spain´s public healthcare system (asistencia sanitaria pública or asistencia del Sistema Nacional de Salud) and present your European Health Insurance Card and ID at the appointment. In this way, treatment is free. It is a good idea to have a paper copy of your European Health Insurance Card with you, so that you can show the original card at the reception desk and give the copy to the doctor.
Dental care is usually not available in the public healthcare system, nor are its costs reimbursed. Only cases requiring urgent treatment are free of charge in the public healthcare system.
When you collect prescription medication prescribed by a doctor in the public system from a pharmacy (farmacia) in Spain, present your European Health Insurance Card and ID. All customers must pay a share of their medication costs by themselves. If you are staying in Spain on a temporary basis, you pay a 50 per cent co-payment for necessary medicine treatment by showing your European Health Insurance Card. Pensioner tourists pay a 10 per cent co-payment. Finnish pension recipients permanently residing in Spain usually pay the 10-per cent co-payment too. If it is not apparent from the date of birth on your health insurance card that you are a pensioner, you may be asked to provide additional proof.
You can access hospital treatment with a specialist´s referral. In urgent cases, however, you can go directly to an outpatient clinic (ambulatorio) or a hospital (urgencias). When you present your European Health Insurance Card and ID, in addition to the referral, at the hospital´s reception desk, treatment, including medicines, will be free of charge. Otherwise, you will be regarded as a private patient and you will have to pay for treatment.
Ambulance transport is free if transportation is necessary for a medical reason and you present your European Health Insurance Card.
If your illness requires you to use special transport when returning to Finland, you will be liable for the travel costs in their entirety. You are recommended to take out a travel insurance that covers these costs.
Read more about suddenly falling ill in Europe.
Read more about reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad.
If you wish to travel to Spain for the purpose of using healthcare services, you can find general information on our site concerning seeking treatment abroad. Some useful sources of information are also listed below. You should direct your questions about healthcare in Spain to the Spanish National Contact Point.
The website of the Spanish Ministry of Health has a search service (in Spanish) where you can find a public or private hospital. The search service operates primarily on the basis of geographical area.
The General Registry of Health Centres Services and Establishments (REGCESS) enables you to search for information about public and private healthcare providers in Spain and about their services. The registry includes hospitals, clinics and other treatment facilities, medical centres and, for example, optician and pharmacy services. You can set the search criteria in English or Spanish. The information on places of treatment is mainly in Spanish.
Additional information about healthcare service providers is available on the website of the Spanish Ministry of Health. All of the regions of Spain have their own websites concerning regional healthcare services. Some Regions have listed service providers (in Spanish) on their websites (see list of links at the end of the page) and information, for example, about waiting lists.
The website of the Spanish Ministry of Health has a list of patient associations that may be helpful if you are seeking treatment for a specific disorder.
Quality and safety of treatment
The Regional Authorities supervise the quality and safety of healthcare services provided in their region. You can obtain additional information by contacting the authorities for the region in which your place of treatment is located.
In the event of treatment injuries, the legislation and patient insurance of the country providing the treatment is always applied. In case you are unhappy with the treatment you received, you should primarily try to sort the matter out with the treatment provider. The national contact point can help you with finding the right authority if you wish to make a complaint.