If you are an expat in Spain and you’re looking for private health insurance, I can recommend SANITAS, specifically their SANITAS Primero plan.
SANITAS is the oldest health insurance company in Spain and was founded in 1954. They are leaders in private health insurance, with nearly 2 million members. In 1989, SANITAS joined BUPA, the UK’s leading health insurance company, which looks after 7.5 million members in 190 countries. Amongst others, Real Madrid’s first team is insured with SANITAS.
As a member of SANITAS you will have access to an exclusive network of over 500 private clinics and 27,000 specialists in medicine.
The SANITAS centers have the latest equipment and the most modern treatments, one example is robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery, which reduces risks and provides faster recovery. With no waiting lists, personalized attention and high-quality comfort offered, SANITAS clients achieve peace of mind. With SANITAS you get your own room, with an extra bed for companions.
SANITAS works only with health insurances and they’re one of the top players in the field. They place particular emphasis on research and development, to be able to offer you the best selection of treatments and therapies. They know that preventive tests, accurate diagnosis and getting the right treatment in time are just as important as high-quality hospital care. That means that if you’re the type who likes to take yearly check-ups and monitor your health closely, they won’t put up any obstacles. It’s happened in the past to me where I go to a hospital or clinic for preventive tests and I’m given second-class treatment or get delayed because I am not really sick. Some health companies prefer to focus on fixing what’s already broken rather than take preventive measures to ensure nothing breaks in the first place. Many governmental health systems operate in this way, unfortunately.
According to the annual survey Key Audience Research (KAR), conducted by IPSOS, SANITAS is the highest rated insurance company in Spain in terms of quality of service and customer contact. They are also the only health insurance company on the top list in 2013.
As a SANITAS client, you can be sure of getting the very best, both in terms of service and treatment.
Once you decide on which plan is best for you, I suggest that you pay for a year in advance as by doing so you get a 4% discount.
The one downside with Sanitas that I’ve encountered so far is that they are highly incentivised to give you appointments or tests as they make money from each of these instances. When I had a slightly complicated case with my health they indiscriminately made me go through a bunch of tests that were probably unnecessary, and in the end they didn’t really find a solution anyway.
I was also disappointed by the fact that one doctor shared her email with me and asked me to email her if needed. I saw it as a friendly gesture based on genuine interest given that she was unable to solve my case and wanted to keep tabs on me. Alas, when I emailed her a couple of months later, I got charged as one of my copayments, which was not expected at all.
Bottom line, keep in mind that everything within the private health sector is determined by money. The same goes for pregnancy and childbirth; I would definitely recommend doing that through the public health system as the doctors and nurses there are much more respectful to the wishes of the mother.
The private health hospitals are much more time constrained and focused on profits, so the way they treat childbirth is completely different. They even get paid more if they deliver a child via caeserean section, so you can imagine what they will be incentivised to do. As soon as there are any delays in delivery by natural birth, they will be nudging the mother towards caeserean section so they won’t have to wait long for the delivery and they get paid more. Definitely a sad state of things.
On the other hand, we’re lucky to have incredible hospitals like Sant Joan de Deu where childbirth and the wishes of the mother are highly respected and they will do everything possible to abide by your wishes during this very important event for you as a couple.
Public Health System
Depending on whether you’re employed in some form and contributing to social security, you might also be entitled to make use of the public health system in Spain. I’ve found it to be very good, however, note that the time allowed for each appointment is very restricted (around 7 minutes) so it can be quite frustrating if you have any problem that requires some time to describe and discuss. In case you need treatment that is not urgent, be prepared to be put on the waiting list which can take quite some time.
Personally, while I think the health system is very good for what it is, I still like to have private insurance as it’s very affordable and ensures you will be able to get any treatment almost immediately.