Just to say Hi - and ask a question about medical services :)

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18 Feb 2012 00:00 by TheBearsKitten Star rating. 4 posts Send private message

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Just thought I'd say Hi and introduce myself as I am new to this forum. I currently live in the UK but will be moving out to Spain later this year with my 11 year old son. My partner has a bar in Benidorm and I will be working part time as a self-employed translator (not interpreter) and proof reader.

One question I have is about medical services. I know that within the EU there is reciprocity but as we will be living out there permanently what is the reality? We'll be paying the Spanish equivalent of NI - what do we get for that? Is it advisable to get additional cover? If so does anyone have any experience - good or bad - to share?

Thanks guys 

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18 Feb 2012 22:55 by gwm Star rating in Pizarra. 139 posts Send private message

If you are paying into the Spanish Social Security you are covered. I don't know about Benidorm, only the Costa del Sol. I have found the treatment very good. Hospitals usually have someone that speaks English if needed but quite often the Doctor speaks English. If you have to go to Hospital, 2 beds to a room with bathroom.  I wouldn't bother with private medical insurance.

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18 Feb 2012 23:24 by TheBearsKitten Star rating. 4 posts Send private message

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Thanks. I've heard lots of good things about Spanish hospitals - and their health care in general. I just wasn't sure if we needed any extra cover.

Appreciate your reply 

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19 Feb 2012 03:42 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 4108 posts Send private message


The two beds to a room:  I have only found that to apply in private hospitals.  For example, not in the Costa del Sol Hosp.
In the 25 years I have lived in Spain I have always had cover on the ‘National Health System’ and for most of the time I had private cover too. The quality of medical attention has varied between outstandingly good to considerably poor, and applies to the private health cover too.
 Relying on non professional interpreters can be a bit of a problem. I am a volunteer interpreter with the Police. I decided to work with the police as my Spanish might have 'killed' someone in a medical setting, however, I know a few people who are volunteers with the medical centres who have considerably worse Spanish than me !  
 And don’t rely on doctors speaking English. Some do some don’t, some will and some won’t. I was translating for my adult son one time in the A and E dept.  The doctor decided to use her very good English, only after I had demonstrated my ability to speak Spanish and not appear to expect her to speak English.
 Not unreasonable. I remember much criticism when I lived in UK to the effect that
 ‘If they come to live here they should learn English !! ‘



(edited to corrected the  spacing changed by the prog when I pasted in in

This message was last edited by johnzx on 19/02/2012.


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19 Feb 2012 09:41 by gwm Star rating in Pizarra. 139 posts Send private message

The Costa del Sol Hospital near Marbella does have 2 beds to room, I have spent time in the hospital, as well as other members of the family, for different things, so different departments. The University Hospital in Malaga is the same. I only have direct experience of these two hospitals. I did also find most  Doctors spoke some English, and the one that didn't brought a translater with him.  The treatment was very good, can't say the same about the food though...

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19 Feb 2012 10:01 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 4108 posts Send private message



Sorry the 4 times I have been in Costa del Sol, there were two beds in the room, but there was another patient in it each time.
The last time I was there was because I had deep vein thrombosis.  6weeks before I was admitted I had attended the A and E and after 8 hours of waiting and tests, but mainly waiting, they said I was fine. Four weeks later I went again and they insisted that there was nothing wrong and more or less said I was wasting their time.   Two weeks after that, again after about 8 hours of waiting and tests they discovered I had DV T and insisted on admitting me there and then as it was an emergency. It was 10pm and I wanted to take my wife home, they allowed me to leave after I had signed an undertaking that they had warned me how dangerous that would be. I thought after 8 weeks I could probably survive another few hours.
As I said the medical attention is variable.

On the whole if you can afford it take out private medical insurance, and I say that after 25 years here and as a person who speaks reasonably good Spanish.  My wife is much younger than me so the cost of her insurance is, in my opinion, worth every euro, and that is in spite of her being covered by the 'national health service.'


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19 Feb 2012 11:23 by gwm Star rating in Pizarra. 139 posts Send private message

I agree the waiting time can be long, I broke my wrist and I waited about 2 hours, not too bad. However from watching UK TV at least we aren't surrounded by a load of drunks whilst waiting. 

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25 Feb 2012 04:27 by scrounger Star rating in Spain & Afganistan. 5 posts Send private message

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Hello Bearskitten
I am not sure some of the replies and posts on here are relevant to your question. What has all the gossip about 2 beds got to do with your question, or drunks in the UK. Perhaps some people are bored and lonely,  and have nothing much to write about.
What you need to understand, is that countries in the EU have state healthcare, be it good or bad, that is for you to decide. In order to bypass the system many people (who can afford it) take out private medical insurance.
This is even common practice in the UK.
As an example, last year on a routine medical I was found to have gall stones. No pain, no problem. On the NHS I would have had to wait until my condition deteriorated and became serious. With my private health insurance they were removed within 2 weeks. £4,500.
This year I had a damaged tendon in my left shoulder. On the NHS, probably wait forever. Private medical Insurance, done last week, keyhole surgery £7,500.
It’s all a matter of choice and affordability, depending on your opinion of the quality of the state health service, be it Spain or the UK.

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25 Feb 2012 07:58 by gipsy Star rating. 5 posts Send private message


A good tip: Get "Private Insurance" as soon as you arrive :)

NHS might be good if you have the time to wait....3 months for an appointment at the gynecologist, 8 months for the traumatologist .... I know of people who died from heartfaillure & cancer...while waiting for their appointment.

I'm also self-employed (jurist & translator (no, not to English haha :)..be prepared for the crisis over here, don't expect to find new translation work over here unless you are prepared to cut your prices in 2) and I have both insurances.

I can tell you about my experiences over here (not living so far away from Benidorm) if you want.

Take care & think twice (10x) before moving here. The "working" climate is at his worst at the moment.

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25 Feb 2012 08:25 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 4108 posts Send private message

I don’t know you were being serious when you said,
I am not sure some of the replies and posts on here are relevant to your question. What has all the gossip about 2 beds got to do with your question, or drunks in the UK. Perhaps some people are bored and lonely,  and have nothing much to write about.”
However I guess you just have a great sense of humour, as you go on to give us details about your personal medical history  !!!!! 


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25 Feb 2012 08:49 by gipsy Star rating. 5 posts Send private message

I just read your story Johnzx !

Well, a friends father died just recently in December ...he also had a thrombosis but sent him home...saying nothing was wrong. He went back but it was too late by then.

So when I have the choice, I never go to an NHS hospital... I broke my back a few years back, and waiting for 6 hours for them to take the first RX (machine was broken), and then another 2 hours to see the doc,they said "get up, you are fine, you can go home". They pulled me out of bed with 3 people to then really see I could not stand up, so they put me back and decided to take new RX...

At 22h30 they came back "DON'T MOVE, don't move, your back is broken"... Well, wasn't that a bit too late ????

This was in the clinic in San Juan, Alicante.


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25 Feb 2012 09:08 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 4108 posts Send private message

Hi Gipsy, sorry hear the story about your friend, although as you will gather I am not that surprised. 
I know some people rave about the wonderful health service, and like any other service if one’s personal experience has always been good then for them it is. Of course the quality of a service can only really be judged at its worst level.
I have unfortunately been at the receiving end of medical attention here, or been assisting with translation when victims of crime have been making reports, when the quality of service has been fairly poor.  
I too would recommend private cover, however a 58 year old friend recently died from internal bleeding (should have been detected under standard procedure) after an operation in a large private Marbella hospital. 
My last renewal quote with Axa PPP a few years ago was around £3,000.   I decided not to renew.   My wife, much younger than me is with Santitas.


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25 Feb 2012 09:18 by gipsy Star rating. 5 posts Send private message

Well I have Mundisalud with DKV in Alicante (whom I know well by now) for about 1400 € a year. Only the rehab for my back and knees already costs more than that. If I go to the DKV docs I don't have to pay anything, and I can even go to any doctor in the whole world, they still pay me 80% back of that bill. I'm very happy with them !


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25 Feb 2012 09:29 by scrounger Star rating in Spain & Afganistan. 5 posts Send private message

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Hi Johnzx

I just thought my recent medical history was a good example re private medical insurance vs goverment health care. Maybe not, perhaps I should have kept it to myself and not wasted everybodies time reading it. Sorry.

I still don't get the 2 beds and UK drunks in a room. Is it some sort of joke that I don't understand? Can you explain it to me Johnzx

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25 Feb 2012 09:54 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 4108 posts Send private message



I really think you are pulling my leg.  


I have no doubt that you understand that having or not having a second bed, where a family member or helper can stay the night, in a Spanish hospital is an important item in deciding whether to go national health or private, unless of course one has not experienced Spanish hospital care, then you may not know that personal care, washing, shaving, helping with  bed pan and at meal times etc.,  is often not provided, even in a private hospital.


PS I saw no problem with your personal info, which will be useful to ohers, it was just in the context which you presented it..


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25 Feb 2012 10:40 by Pingbosun Star rating. 3 posts Send private message

 Having read all the above comments I can only tell you our experience. We moved here just over 6 years ago, did all the right things as far as Form 121 etc. and have found the Spanish National Health Service in this area (Cantoria, Almeria) excellent. We changed doctors a couple of times (which was very easily done) until we found the right one, who is absolutely superb. We have both received hospital treatment which again was excellent. I have a couple of nasty ongoing medical problems which are well looked after with very expensive drugs but as we are pensioners so all free. I suggest that you do not waste your money on PMI until you get out here. When you are here ask around all the ex-pats you can find, If there is a problem in the area you will soon find out, all us 'old codgers' like talking about our health!!!! If there is a problem then shop around for the best PMI, again ask around, do not rush into anything. In conclusion I can tell you that the best thing that we have done in our life is move to Spain. We love it and tell everyone that we have found 'Paradise'?

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25 Feb 2012 11:01 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 4108 posts Send private message

Just in passing.
Maybe not everyone knows that when the UK National Health issue the E121 and it is accepted by the Spanish system then the UK health service makes an annual payment for that person (I believe a few years ago it was £2,500 p.a., I know I will be corrected on the amount if I am wrong).
Thus the Spanish service does quite well as long as their UK patients don’t need expensive treatment.
When one is treated on a European Health Card, the country of origin is billed for the costs involved.
A problem which the tourist areas of Spain in particular have, is that when the money is paid by the other country it goes to the Government health dept in Madrid. Thus the area which treated the patient are out of pocket.


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25 Feb 2012 11:25 by gipsy Star rating. 5 posts Send private message

Hi Pingbosum,

You are retired, so for you it must be paradise as long as you do not have to be on a waiting list. For young people like her and myself who still have to work, Spain can be hell. I certainly had to cut my hourly Belgian rate in 2. And when I look at all my English neighbours...i feel pity. At 55 or more working in a bar f.e. at 5€ an hour to make ends meet... A shame !

I combine my private insurance with the NHS, as I am paying for both. When it's urgent I go to my private doc or specialist.

When medication is involved to the NHS. i need an acid in my knees which costs 300 € per injection, so....but downside is that I usually have to wait for about 4-8 months before seeing the traumatologist.

I had some heart trouble and with my private insurance all possible test including a Holter (24h ECG) could be done in 2 days. With NHS I had to wait for 3 months for just the first appointment with their cardiologist.

As I said before, I have seen people die because the waiting time was just too long. If they find some tumor cells in my blood tomorrow, I want them to act tomorrow not to wait until September 2012 to see the oncologist for the 1 time.

I was healthy and well when I arrived in the Costa Blanca in 2003. I have been lucky to have taken that insurance immediately, because today nobody would insure me anymore with the consequence of the accidents that I had.

And like the other one said, shop around, but most of all, read the little text !!!! that' s more important than the price :)


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25 Feb 2012 12:04 by wozno.1 Star rating. 1 posts Send private message

Hi all

My family and I have lived over in Spain for three years now and are looking at private health insurance and was wondering about which insurance was more suited to our family. We are all active sports people and would like some opinions on our best options.I work out of the country for over six months and do not pay into the Spanish tax or NI although I'm tax free I still pay maximum UK NI. We read in the Costa Blanca News that the Spanish government were changing the laws and would be charging for all medical services. Only our children speak Spanish and with me working away I would like to sure be the family would be taken care of in my absence. We are looking at DKV and was after anyone's experience with this medical insurance company. Any advice would be really appreciated.

Best Regards

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