Before your relocation to Spain or moving to Madrid, if you are a EU Citizen, you should make sure you have this essential card: the European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC.
You can see mine on the left of this post, and although this one is Spanish, all EU EHIC are basically the same.
What is the EHIC ?
The EHIC (and the EU law) enables all EU citizen with health coverage in their home country to obtain easy access to emergency health coverage wherever they are in the 27 member countries of the European Union, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Do is it really give me full access to all healthcare in Madrid and Spain ?
The card holder is entitled to the same treatment as he receives in his home country. The idea is that it is for non-residents, and will allow you to get treatment as if you were on your own country for your temporary stay. In many cases, it is also of great use for soon-to-be residents.
However, as it is a card for non-residents and temporary stays, as such you should only need it for emergencies. Therefore, it is up to the Spanish medical professional to determine if the treatment you want is an emergency and whether your EHIC covers you.
In practical terms, in Spain, some administrative employees might think they are entitled to tell you that as a foreigner, you do not have the same rights, just because they have to fill in more forms. This happens. Always keep calm, be positive and smiley, know that it is your right. Do not give up just because one person does not know about the EU law or because one administrative person does not want to fill the extra forms needed on her side. If it is an emergency, do press on and ask for the treatment. In the worst of cases, if the people are not helpful, ask to pay and you will be reimbursed in your home country.
Of course, this card will only give you access to the public health system in Madrid and Spain. Do not worry though, since it is one of the best in the world, according to the World Health Organisation ( 7th according to WHO’s ranking).
Will I have to pay something ?
In Spain, health care is free, and you will need to pay up to 40% of the medicine on your doctor’s prescription.
If for some reason, you have to pay up-front, the card will guarantee that you receive money back soon after you return home by your local health authority.
How do I get the EHIC card ?
You just have to go on the website of your local health authority which will enable you to order through internet and receive it within 10 days by post. The details depend on where you come from. If you are having problems obtaining it, just send me an email.
If you want more official details in English about this card, here is the link to the official portal of the European Union.
If you have any kind of question about health care in Madrid and Spain, do send me an email and I will answer !
This post is also available in: French