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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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BREXIT

Anger grows as no solution found yet for in limbo UK drivers in Spain 

British drivers living in Spain are becoming increasingly disgruntled at the lack of solutions two weeks after they were told their UK licences were no longer valid, with the latest update from the UK Embassy suggesting it could still take "weeks" to reach a deal. 

Anger grows as no solution found yet for in limbo UK drivers in Spain 

There is growing discontent among UK licence holders residing in Spain who are currently in limbo, unable to drive in Spain until they either get a Spanish driving licence or a deal is finally reached between Spanish and UK authorities for the mutual exchange of licences post-Brexit.

Since May 1st 2022, drivers who’ve been residents in Spain for more than six months and who weren’t able to exchange their UK licences for Spanish ones cannot drive in Spain.

There are no official stats on how many Britons of the 407,000 UK nationals who are residents in Spain in 2022 are affected; according to the UK Embassy the “majority exchanged” as advised.

But judging by the amount of negative comments the last two updates from the British Embassy in Madrid have received, hundreds if not thousands are stuck without being able to drive in Spain.  

May 12th’s video message by Ambassador Hugh Elliott left many unhappy with the fact that the forecast for a possible licence exchange agreement will be in the “coming weeks”, when two weeks earlier Elliott had spoken of “rapidly accelerating talks”. 

Dozens of angry responses spoke of the “shocking” and “absolutely ridiculous” holdup in negotiations that have been ongoing for more than at least a year and a half, and which the UK Embassy has put down to the fact that Spain is asking the British government to give them access to DVLA driver data such as road offences, something “not requested by other EU Member States”.

Numerous Britons have explained the setbacks not being able to drive in Spain are causing them, from losing their independence to struggling to go to work, the hospital or the supermarket, especially those in rural areas with little public transport.  

“I know personally from all the messages you’ve sent in, just how incredibly disruptive all of this is for many of you,” Elliott said in response. 

“If you are struggling to get around you may find additional advice or support from your local town hall, or charities or community groups in your area and the Support in Spain website is another very useful source of organisations that can provide general support to residents.

“And if your inability to drive is putting you in a very vulnerable situation, you can always contact your nearest consulate for advice.”

There continue to be disparaging opinions in the British community in Spain over whether any pity should be felt for UK licence holders stuck without driving, as many argue they had enough time to register intent to exchange their licences, whilst others clarify that their particular set of circumstances, such as arriving after the December 2020 ‘intent to exchange’ deadline, made this impossible. 

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

So is there any light at the end of the tunnel for drivers whose UK licences aren’t valid anymore in Spain or soon won’t be?

“The agreement we’re working towards now will enable UK licence holders, whenever they arrived in Spain or arrive in the future, to exchange their UK licence for a Spanish one without needing to take a practical or a theory test,” Elliott said on Thursday May 12th of the deal they are “fully committed” to achieve.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to get a Spanish driving licence?

And yet it’s hard for anyone to rest their hopes on this necessarily happening – sooner or later or ever – in part because the embassy advice for those with UK licences for whom it’s imperative to continue driving in Spain is that they should take steps to get their Spanish licence now, while acknowledging that in some places there are “long delays for lessons” and getting your Spanish licence “doesn’t happen overnight”.

READ ALSO: What now for UK licence holders in Spain?

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