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HEALTH INSURANCE

What are the best private health insurance options in Spain for Brits?

If you're planning on moving to Spain and are not retired or don't have a job yet, you'll need to get private healthcare insurance in order to qualify for residency.

What are the best private health insurance options in Spain for Brits?
How to navigate private health insurance in Spain. Photo: Free-Photos/Pixabay

If you're planning on moving to Spain during the Brexit transition period up until December 31st 2020 or indeed afterwards, and plan on looking for a job or setting up a business once you're there, then you'll need to get private healthcare in order to register as a resident first.

Currently, public healthcare is offered in Spain for those who receive a UK state pension, a Spanish state pension and those who pay social security, whether they are employed by a company or are self-employed.

Remember that current healthcare conditions are only guaranteed until December 31st 2020 when the current Brexit transition period ends. Spain has already said that it will offer a reciprocal healthcare agreement for UK citizens in Spain after the Brexit transition period, but as of yet, no deal has been made with the UK.

If you're not retired or don't work yet, you will still have access to emergency or urgent treatment, although you won't have access to a GP or to make appointments.

The residency requirement is that any private healthcare has to offer same cover as the public healthcare system.

What are the benefits of private healthcare in Spain?

Although Spain is considered to have a good public healthcare system, if you are not yet paying social security, you'll need to get private healthcare instead.

Many residents in Spain choose to go private, even if they do have access to the public healthcare system however, due to the affordability of private healthcare and the added benefits, such as shorter wait times.

According to an article by Transferwise, the average wait time to see a specialist in Spain in the public healthcare system is 65 days, while the average wait time to undergo a special treatment is 62 days.

If you have private healthcare, wait times are drastically reduced to just a couple of weeks or even a few days. What's more, you don't have to wait for a referral from your GP to see a specialist; with most private health insurers in Spain, you can make an appointment with a particular specialist when you want.


Health insurance in Spain. Photo: Darko Stojanovic/Pixabay 

What are the best private health insurance options?

Sanitas

Sanitas is underwritten by BUPA and has 1,200 centres across Spain and its clients have access to more than 40,000 specialists. The basic plan costs from €25.59 euros per month and includes everything from the ability to see specialists to diagnostic testing such as ultrasounds and even dental care. They can also provide Health Insurance Certificates for use with a residency application.

Adeselas

Adeselas offers health insurance cover from €16.20 per month. It has more than 43,000 specialists in 1,150 centres across the country. The basic Adeslas Go plan offers coverage such as general medicine, pediatrics, and diagnostic testing, such as some high-tech methods for prenatal testing. Physiotherapy and psychology are also included. There are four different levels of cover depending on what you want and need.

AXA

AXA Health Insurance offers cover from €15 euros per month and its clients have access to 32,000 specialists. Its basic package does not include coverage for surgical, medical or psychiatric hospitalisation or emergencies, so it's best to get their second tier of cover, which covers all this and more and also has a family plan.

Asisa Insurance

Asia Insurance is one of the largest private health insurers in Spain. It's basic plan costs from €24.20 euros per month and gives unrestricted direct access to specialists, hospitalisation, emergency services and ambulance transfers, maternity care, ambulance transfer and transplants.

Expatriate Healthcare

Expatriate Healthcare has three different levels of cover, which include no hospitalisation restrictions, 24-hour support, chronic and terminal cover and no out-of-pocket expenses during hospital stays. As they cover many different countries and circumstances, you need to get a private quote.

Convenio Especial

The convenio especial is the pay-in public insurance (SNS) for those who are not eligible to be covered. The plan provides access to the public healthcare system for a monthly payment and covers all pre-existing medical conditions, but not prescriptions.It costs €60 euros per month for anyone up to the age of 65 and €157 euros for those 65 and above.

If getting private healthcare for residency requirements, always make sure to contact authorities in the region you're moving to, in order to check which plans they will accept. For example, in Catalonia, it must be a plan with no co-payments, which is often not covered in the basic plans.

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For members

BREXIT

UK driving licences in Spain: When no news is bad news

The UK Ambassador to Spain has given an update on the driving licence debacle, with nothing new to genuinely give hope to the thousands of in-limbo drivers whose increasing frustration has led one group to try and take matters into their own hands.

UK driving licences in Spain: When no news is bad news

It’s been almost five months since UK driving licence holders residing in Spain were told they could no longer drive on Spanish roads. 

Since that fateful May 1st, an unnamed number of the approximately 400,000 UK nationals who are residents in Spain, as well as hundreds if not thousands of Spaniards and foreign nationals who passed their driving test in the UK, have not been able to use their vehicles in Spain or even rent one. 

What adds insult to injury is that British tourists visiting Spain can rent a car without any issue. The fact that Spanish licence holders living in the UK can also continue to exchange their permits in the UK 21 months after Brexit came into force is equally hard to swallow.

READ MORE: ‘An avoidable nightmare’ – How UK licence holders in Spain are affected by driving debacle

The latest update from UK Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott on September 27th has done little to quell the anger and sense of helplessness felt by those caught in this bureaucratic rabbit hole.

“I wanted to talk to you personally about the driving licences negotiations, which I know are continuing to have a serious impact on many of you,” Elliott began by saying.

“As the government’s representative in Spain, I hear and understand your frustrations. I too am frustrated by the pace.

“We previously thought, we genuinely thought, that we’d have concluded negotiations by the summer. 

“Many of you have quite rightly mentioned that I expressed the hope to you that we’d have you back on the road by the end of July.

“Now the truth is it has taken much longer, as there have been unforeseen issues that we have been working very hard to resolve. 

“And I’m as disappointed as you are by the length of time that this is actually taking. 

“But, please, be assured that we are resolving those issues, one by one. There are only a couple of issues left, but they are complex.”

It has previously been suggested by the UK Embassy that Spain has asked for data provision to form part of the exchange agreement, and that British authorities were reluctant to share said information on British drivers’ records, including possible infractions. 

Whether this is still one of the causes of the holdups is unknown, given how opaque the Embassy is being in this regard. 

“We’re working on this every day, it remains a priority,” the UK Ambassador continued.

“There is a lot going on behind the scenes, even if it doesn’t feel like it to you. 

“I know too that you want a timescale and you want an update after every meeting.

“But I’m afraid I just can’t give you those things in this negotiation.” 

The ambassador’s words are unlikely to appease those who are still unable to drive. 

A few weeks ago, a Facebook group called “Invasion of the British embassy in Madrid for the DL exchange issue” was set up, which so far has more than 400 members. 

The group’s administrator, Pascal Siegmund, is looking to set up a meeting with the British Embassy and Spanish authorities to shed light on the impact that not being allowed to drive is having on the life of thousands of UK licence holders in Spain. 

Many of those affected are sharing their stories online, explaining how, due to administrative errors on the part of Spain’s DGT traffic authority, they were unable to process their licence exchange before the deadline. 

This contrasts with the little sympathy shown by UK licence holders who were able to exchange and other commentators, who accuse those in limbo of not having bothered to complete the process, arguing that it’s essentially their own fault.

READ ALSO: Not all Brits in Spain who didn’t exchange UK driving licences are at fault 

“Many of you also continue to ask why you can’t drive while the talks are continuing,” Elliott remarked.

“It is not in the gift of the UK government to reinstate the measures which previously allowed you to continue to drive whilst the negotiations were ongoing earlier in the year. 

“As we said previously, we did request the reinstatement of those measures several times, but this wasn’t granted.”

It’s worth noting that since the news broke on May 1st that UK licence holders residing in Spain for more than six months could no longer drive, no Spanish news outlet has covered the story again. 

Pressure from citizen groups such as the one recently set up and increased awareness about the issue in English-language news sites such as The Local Spain is perhaps the best chance in-limbo drivers have of their voices being heard and the driving licence debacle being finally fixed. 

“I’d say we’re genuinely still making progress,” UK Ambassador Elliott concluded, practically the same message as in previous updates.

“I get how frustrating it is to hear that, but we are making progress. We’re in discussions almost daily about outstanding issues. 

“And I remain very optimistic that we will reach an agreement and hope it will be soon. 

“But as I say, I can’t give you a definitive timetable. 

“And so, the advice that we have been giving all along, which is that you should consider taking the Spanish test if you do need to drive urgently, remains valid. Though we appreciate that’s hard.”

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