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The best private healthcare for foreigners in Spain

If you're planning on moving to Spain and are applying for certain visas, then you will need to get private healthcare as part of your residency application.

The best private healthcare for foreigners in Spain
Best private health insurance for foreigners in Spain. Photo: Accuray / Unsplash

Those wanting to move to Spain and applying for residency visas, such as the non-lucrative visa, will need to get private health coverage. You will also need private healthcare if you are not working in Spain and are not paying into the social security scheme, as you won’t be eligible for public healthcare.

Currently, public healthcare is offered in Spain to those earning state pensions from certain countries Spain has deals with, Spanish state pensions and those who pay social security, whether they are employed by a company or are self-employed.

Although Spain is considered to have a good public healthcare system, many residents in Spain choose to go private, even if they do have access to the public healthcare system, due to the affordability of private healthcare and the added benefits, such being able to see a specialist and shorter wait times.

According to data from UNESPA (the employers’ association for insurers), more than 11.5 million Spaniards have some type of private health insurance.

READ ALSO: Why people in Spain are facing longer waits to see a doctor 

Madrid is the region that has the most people with private health insurance (37 percent) and Cantabria has the least (8 percent).

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states that wait times for public healthcare in Spain are between 74 and 147 days for specialist surgeries such as cataracts, hip replacement and knee replacement.

If you have private healthcare, wait times are drastically reduced to just a few weeks. 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 to.

Recently the Spanish Association of Consumers and Users (OCU) released a study revealing the opinions of 6,451 people about their private health coverage in Spain.

Participants rated their insurance on covered treatments, medical staff, quality of services, customer service and authorisation of tests, as well as price, premiums and co-payments.

Taking all of these into account, the best value health company is ASC – Asistencia Sanitaria Colegial, followed by CIGNA and then Generali.

Those with the best coverage were ASC and Agrupación Mutua, while ASC and Generali were also rated highly for the quality of their healthcare services.  

Clients of AEGON and Sanitas insurance complained the most about rising premiums, but despite this, Sanitas came seventh out of the 16 companies listed. AEGON on the other hand came in at number 15.

READ ALSO: When, where and how to get the flu vaccine in Spain 

Top five health insurance companies in Spain

The top five private health insurance providers on the list were: 

ASC – Asistencia Sanitaria Colegial

The company offers three different health plans, from basic to comprehensive, plus one for frequent travellers. They also offer 24-hour emergency services 365 days a year, plus online services, direct specialist access, and no wait times.


CIGNA also offers three levels of coverage – full, blue or gold. You only have to add on co-payments for the full, while blue and gold also include dental care. Clients have direct access to medical specialists as well as psychologists.


Generali again has three levels of coverage, as well as extra insurance for those with serious illnesses, hospitalisation or who are pregnant. They have over 51,000 specialists in different fields and you can choose from coverage with or without co-payments.


FIATC offers either full or basic coverage with or without co-payments, insurance where medical bills are reimbursed and dental coverage. As well as 24-hour home care, they offer complimentary health services such as prenatal service, gynaecology, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, psychology and nutritional services. Waiting times are also greatly reduced.

Agrupación Mutua

Agrupación Mutua offers six different types of health plans without waiting times that cover appointments, emergencies, tests, hospitalisation and more. Prices start from €17.49 a month for the most basic plan up to €66.82 per month for the most comprehensive.

The five insurance companies with the lowest satisfaction scores from customers were Divina Pastora, ASISA, ADESLAS Segurcaixa, AEGON and DKV.

Keep in mind that not all types of private health insurance will serve if you have to get it as a visa requirement. Most of the time you will have to get a plan without co-payments, which are typically the most comprehensive ones.

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Shortage of medicines in Spanish pharmacies grows by 150 percent

Spanish pharmacies are increasingly struggling to get the proper supply of certain medicines such as paediatric amoxicillin and some anti-diabetic drugs.

Shortage of medicines in Spanish pharmacies grows by 150 percent

In 2022 Spanish pharmacies experienced supply problems with 403 medicines, according to Spain’s General Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges (CGCOF).

Though this figure represents just 5 percent of the total 20,000 medicines sold in Spain, it is an increase of 150 percent compared to 2021 and represents what experts have deemed a “worrying” trend that is rising after two years of decline. The shortages last an average of four or five weeks.

This was the warning made by the CGCOF based on its data on the supply of medicines (CisMED), which is focused on ‘supply alert’ notices provided by almost 10,000 of the 22,000 pharmacies across Spain.

READ ALSO – Reader question: Are there limits on bringing medicines into Spain?

On average in 2022, more than 70 medicines were identified as suffering from shortages per week. The weekly average for 2021 was 28 incidents and in 2020 it was 41.

Of these shortages, experts say they are especially pronounced in medicines for the nervous system and cardiovascular groups, and “very significantly” pronounced with paediatric amoxicillin and some anti-diabetic drugs.

Medicines for the nervous system made up around 20 percent of the incidents, followed by cardiovascular therapeutics, with 19 percent, digestive 14 percent, and respiratory 13 percent.

READ ALSO: Pharmacies in Spain will be able to sell medical marijuana by the end of 2022

Call for calm

Stark as this statistic may seem out of context, however, it does not suggest that shelves in Spanish pharmacies are bare nor that Spaniards are being turned away by out-of-stock pharmacists.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, President of the CGCOF, Jesús Aguilar, soothed fears by drawing distinctions between different types of shortages, one, he said, was “when there is none for anyone,” and the other a lack of supply “when there is none today but there will be tomorrow, or when there is none here but there is there”. 

Spain, he said, was suffering the second, adding that pharmacists can always replace or find alternative medicines. “Citizens have to be calm. It’s under control. We have the problem when it comes to looking for the medicine, not the citizens,” he added.


The causes of the shortages of certain medicines in Spain are various, but many stem from a combination of the centralised nature of production, meaning some medicines are produced only in certain parts of the world or even single factories, and a shortage of raw materials and packaging from Asian countries where production has been slow to recover from the pandemic shutdown, as well as the low price of medicines in Spain.

The issue is “a multifactorial problem that comes from problems with the increasingly globalised nature of drug manufacturing,” Aguilar said. “This supply problem has been affecting Spain for years, as well as the rest of Europe and the world.”


To try and ease the supply shortages, the CGCOF has launched a new campaign to expand ‘Farmahelp’, a collaborative network of pharmacies that already has almost 6000 participating branches.

The Farmahelp app allows patients to find medicines in nearby pharmacies when they are unavailable and connects the pharmacy branches so they can update one another about the availability of medicines.