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Alicante - Healthcare & Medical Treatment
Once you have been issued with a social security number, you can register with a family doctor at your local Centro de Salud or Health Centre, a list of which can be found in the Yellow Pages or at www.paginasamarillas.es, searching for centros de salud. Health centres have catchment areas, so you will need to register at the nearest to home. Proof of address is therefore required when registering with a doctor, as well as your social security number and NIE. When needing to see a doctor you will need to make an appointment in advance. Eventually you will receive a tarjeta sanitaria, or health card, which shows your eligibility for free healthcare in Spain and can be used to see a doctor anywhere in Spain if necessary.
Many health centres also operate a 24 hour emergency drop-in centre, which saves lengthy visits to the hospital when requiring medical attention out of hours. However, for more serious situations, you should head straight to the Urgencias department of the local hospital. The main hospitals in Alicante are the Hospital General de Alicante (Calle Maestro Alonso, 109) and the Hospital Universitario de San Juan, situated on the main N-322 road from Alicante to Valencia. 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, however once a social security number has been issued, life is much easier with a registered doctor.
Dentists are not free in Spain, however they are not cost prohibitive either. Again a list can be found in the Yellow Pages, however word of mouth is usually the best recommendation.
Many Spaniards have private healthcare, as the waiting list to see specialists or for non-urgent operations can be long. Major health insurance providers in Spain 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 what you expect.
Opticians are not covered within the national health service either, but there a multitude of optician chains within the main shopping centres of Alicante. A list of opticians in Alicante, their contact details and services, can be found at www.opticas.info/alicante
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