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Healthcare & Medical Treatment

Barcelona - Healthcare & Medical Treatment

Contributors to the Spanish social security system are entitled to free healthcare through the network of Centros de Salud (or Centre d'Atencio Primaria in Catalan) and hospitals. Social security numbers are issued through your employer, or it is just as easy to obtain your own from the Social Security Office at Calle Albareda, 1. Self-employed workers are also required to pay into the social security system, and are therefore also entitled to free healthcare. More details on the Spanish social security system for employed, self-employed and retired people can found at www.seg-social.es, the official website which can also be read in English.

Registering with a doctor is relatively straightforward. You need to register with the Centro de Salud or Health Centre nearest to your home. A list can be found in the yellow pages or at www.paginasamarillas.es, searching for Centros de Salud, or here.

To prove your residence, you will need to take with you either a rental agreement or a recent utility bill. You will also need to take a copy of your social security number, and the letter received from the social security office, as well as your NIE (numero de identificacion para extranjeros). Most health centres require appointments made in advance. You will, in time, receive a tarjeta sanitaria, or health card, which proves that you are entitled to free healthcare in Spain, and enables you to see a doctor anywhere in Spain.

Many health centres also offer 24 hour emergency drop-in centres, which can help avoid lengthy queues in the casualty department of the main hospitals. However, should your need be urgent, you should attend the accident and emergency department (Urgencias) of your nearest hospital.

One of the leading and largest hospitals in Spain is situated in Barcelona, the Hospital Vall d'Hebron, a complex of four centres situated at Passeig de la Vall d'Hebron, 119-129, telephone 93 489 3100. The four centres include the General Hospital, Maternity and Paediatric Hospital, the Traumatology and Rehabilitation area and the Outpatient Surgery Unit. More information can be found on their website at www.vehbron.es

Other public hospitals in Barcelona include:

Hospital del Mar
Pg Maritim Barceloneta, 25-29
Tel: 93 248 3000
Website: www.imasbcn.com/hospitals/hospital-del-mar/index.html

Hospital de Sant Joan de Deu
Pg Sant Juan de Deu, 2
Esplugues de Llobregat
Tel: 93 280 4000
Website: www.hsjdbcn.org

Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau
San Antoni Maria Claret, 167
Tel: 93 291 9000
Website: www.santpau.es

There are also a number of private hospitals in Barcelona that service the private patients, and those insured by health insurance providers. Many Spaniards choose to take out private insurance to avoid queues to see consultants or non-urgent operations. The main health insurance providers are include Mapfre (www.mapfre.es), Caser (www.caser.es) and Sanitas (www.sanitas-salud.com). As always, it is wise to check through all policies and cover before purchasing, to ensure that your cover is at the level you require.

The telephone number for emergencies in Spain is 112 and 061 for direct access to the local ambulance service.

EU citizens who hold an E-111 certificate can also receive free healthcare for three months, however after this period residents are either expected to register with the social security system, or take out private health insurance, which will give you access to a number of private hospitals in the area.

Dentists are not covered by the Spanish social security system, yet prices are not to costly which means dental care is accessible to most people. A list of local dentists can be found in the Yellow Pages, or by personal recommendation. A list of dentists that speak English can be found at barcelona.angloinfo.com/af/497/barcelona-dentists-and-orthodontists.html.

Opticians are not covered either, but the major optician chains such as Mi Optica and + Vision can be found in Barcelona's main shopping centres and streets. A list of opticians in the area, as well as their services, can also be found here.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.