Besides helping with costs not covered by SNS, expats also purchase private health insurance in Spain for many other reasons. Powerful motivators include avoiding long wait times for non-emergency medical procedures. For example, the average wait time in Spain for a hip replacement is 123 days. And for a prostectomy 62 days. Patients even wait 65 days just to see a specialist..
In 2016, 161,700 patients sat on waiting lists for surgery in Catalonia and more than 94,000 in Andalusia.
Factoring in wait times for seeing specialists and getting treatment proves extra important for those who require regular medical treatments for non-life threatening conditions. But you can bypass the crowds with a private insurance plan. The private insurance system also gives patients access to better in-hospital care, especially in terms of comfortable accommodations and food choices.
Many expats also rely on private insurance because they prove ineligible for Spain health insurance benefits. This is a common problem. After all, only expats eligible for Spain’s social security coverage can seek health care through the SNS. If you are a visiting student from the European Union (EU) under 26 years of age, working in Spain, or over retirement age, you’re covered by health insurance in Spain. But if you aren’t yet eligible for retirement and don’t work, you prove ineligible for coverage. What’s more, if you come from a nation with universal healthcare, your country may need to foot the bill for your medical expenses. You’ll need to fill out the appropriate forms to streamline the process.