5 Facts About Healthcare in Spain

Everything to know before retiring in Spain

In Spain the majority of healthcare comes out as a sort of social security pay-in scheme; essentially it’s a tax. However, if you’re not working in a capacity that’s taxable in that way, you might be able to escape from this financial challenge.

It’s definitely worth looking into. With that in mind, here we’ll cover a few facts about Spanish healthcare to help you understand what’s available, and what isn’t. If you’re considering retirement to Spain, you’ll want to be sure you understand these things.

1. First Things First: Public Healthcare in Spain Is “Free”

While it’s not completely “free” per se, it is government-funded, which means it represents less of a direct impact on your pocketbook. However, if you’re living in Spain, you’ll have to pay Spanish taxes, which means you’re actually paying for healthcare—it’s not totally free.

Spanish taxes aren’t the same as those in the USA. If you’re making a bit over $23k, your tax rate is 30%. By $69,600, you’re paying 45% taxes. $348k+ comes to 47%. (These rates have been adjusted from Euros to dollars at a rate of $1.16 per euro.) Meanwhile, up to $40k+, American tax rates are 12%. Quite a contrast.

So yes, you’ve got “free” healthcare; but you’re paying more for it upfront owing to the social security tax which funds it. If you’re retired, you may not have to opt-in; but you want to check with local laws to be sure.

2. A Difference In Care Quality

It’s not that the quality of healthcare in Spain is “bad”–it’s among the top options available in the world today. It’s just not at the same level of healthcare available in the USA.

Since it’s a government-run system, that means it does have a bit of bureaucratic static defining it as well. However, that static isn’t nearly as impenetrable as United States bureaucracy for one reason: Spain is very healthy generally.

While the healthcare in Spain may not have quite the level of technological superiority available at exorbitant rates in the U.S., it is the country that is rated the healthiest in the world. Accordingly, there’s less congestion.

3. The Psychological Component

Something else that makes a lot of sense for those considering whether or not they should retire in Spain is the psychological component. Spain takes psychological health with a high level of seriousness. That’s important in later life; perhaps more than in younger life. Consider the factors that lead to senility and dementia.

Many aspects of life can contribute to things like dementia. Brain damage, trauma, psychoses, substance abuse, depression—all can act as a sort of cumulative factor over time. Spain takes this sort of thing quite seriously and can help those who are having mental health issues in later life.

4. There Are Private Healthcare Options

If you’re able to avoid taxable income, you’ve got assets, and you don’t work in any capacity requiring pay-in to the social security option of Spain, you might use private healthcare options. Even if you’re paying in, this could be the way to go. So you don’t have to rely solely on the public healthcare system, which is important for many retirees.

5. Dental Care Is Not Covered By The “Public” Option

You’re still going to have to pay to go to the dentist in Spain, so keep that in mind if you’ve got oral health needs that are less than cheap. There are dental options, they’re going to be classified similarly to private healthcare.

Making An Educated Decision

So dental healthcare is available, as is private healthcare, but neither are free options available to the public, you’ll have to pay associated fees. However, Spanish healthcare does put a premium on solid psychological health, and though there’s a difference in care quality from US options, Spanish healthcare is among the best in the world.

Also, since Spain is the world’s healthiest country, it means less congestion defines their public healthcare option when compared to larger countries that aren’t as healthy. Finally, provided you meet certain legal qualifications as pertain to residency, Spanish healthcare is “free”. Foreigners have to get health insurance, they don’t get the “free” health option.

In a nutshell, citizens only pay for things like prescriptions; otherwise, the cost is taken out through a certain social security tax. You might be able to opt-in even if you don’t pay that specific tax. So the bottom line is, if you’re looking to retire somewhere, there’s much to recommend Spain, provided you can handle the taxes.

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