Health Insurance For Expats

Ah, insurance. It’s been a hot topic of conversation lately. When I listen to NPR, it seems to always be on their “Most Emailed Stories” list. People are curious about the United States’ new healthcare exchanges.

Likewise, I have become interested in finding a healthcare policy while in Spain. I have been uninsured a few times while here, and I never felt good about it. What types of insurance did I have available to me? Here’s a quick guide to different types of healthcare insurance for expats, with an eye on Spain.

1. The Public Healthcare System—Seguridad Social

Spain has a great private healthcare system, and if you’re an EU resident, you have the right to receive free medical care when visiting another country. You can get an E111 form, usually available at post offices. This covers you until you get a tarjeta de seguridad social from the social security office.

If you are not from an EU country, however, you will need to be contributing to the social security system. At the time, I was unemployed, but as a family member to my husband, I was eligible. No matter if you have the card or not, remember that you will never be denied treatment if you need it.

2. Private Insurance Policy

Private healthcare in Spain is fairly straightforward. You buy a policy that best fits your needs. Some will have a lot of copays and cover little; some will have no copays and cover almost everything. It all depends on the company and the premium. Some of the most popular companies in Spain are Mapfre, Cigna, and Sanitas. I just bought a policy, and I’m rather too excited about making some appointments for checkups.

3. Expatriate Insurance Policy

You can always choose an insurance policy meant specifically for expats. What’s the difference between this option and the previous? Expat health insurance will cover you worldwide, whereas a country-based policy will usually not. Expatriate insurance policies often cover a wider range of conditions and likely include travel insurance.

If you’re an expat, how do you address the health-care question? Does your adopted country have a good public health-care system like in Spain?

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6 comments

  1. I don’t know how I’ve arrived here, maybe because of I was looking for a picture of manzanal del Barco when I’ve found a picture of a boy who I know since he was a baby! of course I am talking about Mario.
    First, your blog got me intrigued and I needed to read it and then it got me hooked and now I am here writting some words!
    Congratulations for your marriage! and also for your blog it is amazing! I hope you enjoy of Spain!!
    I don’t want to extend here, maybe we could meet ourselves in zamora or maybe in Madrid!
    Best regards to Mario ;)

  2. Thankfully the auxiliar program has health insurance, which I believe I overheard my director last year saying cost something like 7 or 18€ a month. I’ve heard good things about opening short-term plans via Adeslas or Asisa if you have to stay the summer after the program is over, which I’m sure must be like the one you just purchased. Great post!

  3. everyone, whether a EU person, non-European, a tourist or an illegal immigrant has the right to receive free medical care through urgencias (emergency room), although illegal immigrants and non-EU tourists will receive a bill to pay.

    people who have private insurance policies are often taken to public hospitals if they are in a bad situation.

    the Spain’s national health system is quite good and recognised overseas, but it’s far from being free as many people tend to think, it’s quite expensive.

  4. I recently started a policy with Sanitas and I love it! For about 50€ a month I have everything covered without copays and some dental care is included. My appointments are in a beautiful, modern, state of the art hospital. I lived in on an outer island of Hawaii, so the medical care left something to be desired. My policy there was 80-20 so I paid 20% of everything plus copays and it cost me a couple hundred even with my employer paying a percentage of the monthly fee. And that was considered good! I was lucky!

  5. This is sure to drive some traffic your way! I always get asked about this and to tell you the truth I usually just say that as an EU member with an E111 I don’t really have to worry about it so I don’t really know much. Now I know where to send em! Good post Kaley v useful.

  6. At my last job at a U.S. university, I worked with international students, and part of it involved making sure they were properly insured in the States. It’s interesting to me how other countries’ healthcare systems are structured, since I spent a lot of time explaining to students why insurance in the States is so imperative.

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