With its Mediterranean diet and warm climate, the Costa Blanca is renowned as one of the healthiest regions of Spain. In fact, the World Health Organisation named it as one of the healthiest regions in the world! There are many beautiful spas and health farms available at your disposal; a visit to the mud baths on the Mar Menor is a must. Go a little further inland to the historic spa town of Fortuna, where you can be pampered in one of the most luxurious health spas in the region.
There are many “green areas” within the region where the landscape remains unspoilt and many nature parks can be discovered. Close to the large salt lake in Torrevieja, you will find a large unspoilt nature park. It is home to dozens of varieties of birds & long legged cranes, various types of ducks, pink flamingos, plus many, many more, some having developed their own protective system to deal with the warm water as the lake evaporates.
Public Health Care in Spain
After the return of democracy, the Ministry of Health was reconstructed and the National Institute of Public Health Care (INSALUD) was created to serve the needs of the population. The name was recently changed to Instituto Nacional de Gestion Sanitaria. Today 98.9% of the population has the right to receive health service free of charge.
Quality of Care
The quality of health care in Spain is very good, particularly in the large urban centres. A private sector also exists and it is estimated that about 15% of the population, mostly in Madrid and Barcelona, use it. The Spanish government is encouraging this development of employer-purchased private health insurance through tax deductions.
Free choice of primary care doctor is the right of all Spanish people. Nearly all are able to see their primary care doctor within one day. An estimated 8% are said to have to wait 2-4 days. The primary care doctor is required to provide home emergency care, and is the person who refers the patient for specialty consultations except for obstetrics or opticians.
Most doctors, work on a team basis in group practice in ambulatory centres. Specialty consultation referrals are typically to a specialty consultation clinic, which may be part of a hospital or free standing.There are close to 800 hospitals in Spain, Nearly 2/3 of hospital beds are in public hospitals where 80% of all hospital care occurs The private hospitals tend to be smaller and on occasion public hospitals may contract with private facilities for some special consultations or to help with an overflow of public hospital patients.
Emergency and Other Services
All public hospitals provide emergency services on a 24-hour basis. Within each administrative region of Spain there is at least one large public hospital equipped and staffed with the most advanced technology to provide highly specialized services.
As in most European countries there are waiting lists for elective and non-emergency surgical care. To reduce the surgical waiting lists, the Spanish government arranged for selected hospitals to increase the amount of surgical time, including evening surgical hours.
There are no charges to patients for any medical or hospital services in the public sector, but they must pay about 40% of the cost for drugs prescribed outside of the hospital. Though pensioners and unemployed persons have been exempt from this co-payment, the Spanish government is planning to introduce a 10% co-payment for pensioners.
Nationals of EU countries can get free medical treatment in Spain on production of the relevant paperwork (Form E111 for British people), although for holiday-makers, private insurance is highly recommended.
In Spain, what is known as a Chemist’s in the UK is referred to as ‘Farmacia.’ Farmacias are recognizable by a green flashing cross displayed outside or within the store window. Farmacias in Spain can be used for all of your prescription and over-the-counter drug needs. However many drugs that require a prescription in the UK are available without prescription in Spain