There are long waiting lists in some public hospitals (particularly the best ones). Hospitals are listed in Yellow Pages under "hospitals" and indicated by the international hospital sign of a white `H' on a blue background.
Except in the case of emergencies, you must present your social security card or, if you aren't covered by social security, you must provide evidence of your health insurance or the ability to pay.
If your private insurance company doesn't have an arrangement with a Spanish hospital to pay bills direct, you will have to pay the bill yourself (credit cards are usually accepted) and seek assurance from your insurance company, which they will pay you back the bill afterwards.
A list of local hospitals and health centres treating social security patients is available from your local social security office. However, you can see the complete list of hospitals in Madrid on: Madrid.org
Drugs and medicines (medicinas/medicamentos) prescribed by a doctor are obtained from a pharmacy (farmacia) denoted by the sign of a green cross.
Most pharmacies are open from 9:30am until 1:30pm and from 4:30pm until 8pm from Monday to Saturday. Outside normal opening hours, a notice is posted giving the address of the nearest duty pharmacy (farmacia de guardia) open after 8pm and during all night long.
There are 24-hour duty pharmacies in all towns (usually indicated by a red light). When visiting a duty pharmacy outside normal hours, you will usually have to ring a bell, speak to the pharmacist behind a bulletproof glass door and be served through a small hatch.
If you have a prescription you must pay a little percentage of the cost of medicines and drugs or nothing at all if you're a pensioner or handicapped. Many private health insurance schemes also reimburse members for drugs and medicines. Note that there's no refund for prescribed medicines or for medicines purchased without a doctor's prescription.
Pharmacies have a monopoly on non-prescription drugs in Spain, which are expensive compared with many other countries. Public health benefits include general and specialist medical care, hospitalisation, laboratory services, discounted drugs and medicines, maternity care, appliances and transportation.
You can find the closest pharmacy to you on Colegio Oficial de Famacéuticos (official pharmacist association)
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Madrid is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in Spain. So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
EasyExpat.com works in partnership with APRIL International to provide specific insurance solutions for travelling or staying outside your country of nationality.
Designed for either short or long stays, APRIL International’s insurance policies offer protection against any problems that might arise before departure or during your time in Spain: cancelling your trip, medical expenses following an illness or accident, needing to be repatriated, causing damage to a third party or losing your luggage.
For more information on expat health insurance in Spain, visit our partner APRIL International