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Spain has a high ranking from the World Healthcare Association for the quality of its healthcare and it has excellent hospitals and clinics right across the country. This is an important factor for people retiring here who want the assurance that all their medical needs will be catered for.

Spanish healthcare for UK Pensioners

In this respect, Spain is an excellent choice of country to retire to for British citizens, especially those receiving a state pension. According to Citizen’s Advice Bureau Spain, UK state pensioners are assured of access to public healthcare and currently there is no indication that this will change once the UK leaves the European Union, although this is something that any UK citizen moving to another EU country after 2019 should keep a close eye on.

Providing a British citizen living in Spain has paid the requisite amount of national insurance contributions, the UK government will issue them with an S1 document that ensures their inclusion in the Spanish healthcare system. The S1 document is available to pensioners from the government’s healthcare team and full details are available here, with phone numbers about who to contact.

It is important to note that an S1 form gives you the right to apply for a social security number and get a Spanish health card. The form also covers a spouse, although once the spouse reaches state pension age they must apply for their own S1.

Other changes to the UK’s healthcare charging regulations also means that if you’re a British pensioner living in Spain and you need medical care while visiting the UK, you have the same right to treatment under the NHS as someone who lives in the UK.

And for those British subject who are not yet pensioners, if you have been sent to Spain to work and you are making NI contributions, then you and your family are also entitled to an S1 form. Don’t forget the application has to be made in the UK though.

Unfortunately, anyone who has taken early retirement is not covered by S1, but there is an alternative to private healthcare insurance and that is the Convenio Especial. For a payment of around €60 per month this covers anyone who has no access to Spanish public healthcare but wants to opt-in to the Spanish state system.

There are more options than you may have been aware of and as a pensioner you do not have to pay out for expensive private health insurance unnecessarily. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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