Many North Americans (US Citizens or Canadians) who are thinking of applying for the non lucrative visa Spain or the retirement visa Spain, have been asking about the private health insurance in Spain. The popular questions are related to costs, as well as the medical insurance coverage requirements for the non lucrative visa. If you are looking for practical information on health insurance in Spain, this is the perfect place for you to start! It has been a hot topic for us lately and keeping our email inbox buzzing away.
We’ve also received a few questions from expats already living in Spain as well. After responding to several of the emails, I thought it would just be easier to write up a quick post and let you know all that we know about health insurance for Americans living in Spain. This may apply to other countries as well, but you will need to check.
Updated: As of June 2017 with our Private Health Insurance Spain
Medical Insurance in Spain is one of our most popular posts! We have updated information below.
How much does it cost for private health insurance in Spain?
I know it is a huge mental leap for an American to think the cost of Medical Insurance or Health Insurance, as something you can afford out-of-pocket. Well, let me just tell you from personal experience, we found health insurance for American expats living in Spain to be very”affordable”. Of course affordable is a matter of opinion, so I will share with you the actual cost of our health insurance for our Spanish resident visa, as well as other quotes we have received. You can be the judge and also ask for your own quotes.
Please do keep in mind this is just something for you to get a feel for the costs, as for each person/family it will vary due to your ages, location, duration of policy and coverage selected.
Medical Insurance Spain Private Health Insurance
For Non Lucrative Visa Application or other resident visa applications in Spain
(US Citizens or non EU Citizens)
REQUIREMENT – You need private Spanish Medical Insurance Coverage!
This is true for either the non-lucrative visa in Spain or the retirement visa in Spain. It is likely required for other Spain visas as well, but these are the two we mainly focus on. It is possible to purchase the non lucrative visa health insurance Spain in advance, and we provide you the info we have available. Keep in mind we are not insurance agents and can’t compare for every option, just those which we know or have experience with.
Let me start back when we were applying for our non lucrative visa for Spain (late 2011/early 2012).
When we applied in 2012 the requirement of insurance for Spain visa read:
Health Insurance Spain. Proof of health insurance coverage while in Spain. We do not accept insurance cards. We need a letter from your insurance stating that you will be covered while travelling to Spain. Travel medical insurance with a minimum coverage of 30,000 Euros or its equivalent in US dollars. This should include repatriation (returning a person back to the country of origin).
As of May 2014 it read:
Proof of having international medical insurance while in Spain, with a certified translation into Spanish.
Do keep in mind the requirements for the non lucrative visa often change and can vary between the 12 Spanish Consulates within the United States. Please do verify your exact requirements with the consulate aligned to your location and determine what is required for your Medical Insurance in Spain. Sometimes each consulate has slightly different rules.
Time to show you are Research on private health insurance Spain
Let the research begin. When still living in the US, we researched many options and found it to be overwhelming. Many US insurance companies wouldn’t insure us outside of the United States for an extended period of time. Others wanted a thorough head-to-toe examination and proof that we were over the top healthy. We received many on-line quotes from your standard US health Insurance companies (Cigna, Aetna, IMG, United, etc.) and many quoted $5000 – $12,000 per year for our family of 4. What?! I thought that was crazy and continued to do research.
What is the difference between Medical Insurance and Travel Insurance?
Depending on the company and policy selected, Travel Insurance typically covers emergency medical procedures. In addition, they often cover the policyholder for insurable events that may occur before or during travel, such as trip cancellation/interruption, medical expenses for injury or illness, theft of valuables, baggage delay or damage and more. Many of these companies do not cover you in your home country at all or within a certain radius from your home city.
Depending on the company and policy selected, Medical Insurance or Health Insurance usually covers your medical needs preventative as well as injury or illness. Of course there are wide ranges of coverage available within this area, with a variety of deductible amounts. It was difficult to find coverage for Spain as well as the US.
At the time, we decided to opt for high-end Travel insurance from Worldnomads.com for our coverage. We weren’t sure if it would be accepted for the application, but it did meet all of the coverage requirements and repatriation too. In the end, our visa was approved with this coverage in Summer of 2012.
(As of June 2017 many consulates will no longer accept travel insurance for the visa application. Please check with your consulate or opt for one of the insurance options below)
In hindsight, which Medical Coverage would we have chosen?
Oh if only I knew then what I know now!
How many times has that phrase come to haunt us?
After living in Spain for 1 year, it was time for us to apply for our Spanish resident card renewal. As part of this process we needed to again show proof of finances as well as Medical Insurance Coverage. We started to do more research on Spanish Health Insurance for expats and found it to be much more affordable than the US options. We decided not to renew our Travel Insurance and instead purchase Medical Insurance from one of the Spanish Insurance companies.
Do you research!
Again we reached out to several and received quotes for our family of 4. To receive a quote for coverage, all they needed was our birth dates and passport numbers (or NIE number). Of course you still have the varieties of coverage from your basic coverage to the mac daddy full hospitalization as well as various deductibles, in network, out of network etc.
We received price quotes for our family of 4 ranging from €45 – €220 per month ($62 – $300, depending on exchange rate). If you opt for a quarterly, bi-annual or yearly contract, you may also receive discounts. I think the Annual contract for full coverage with dental, travel and hospitalization was about €2200 per year (~$3025). This is a far cry from the prices quoted to us by many of the US companies, and we didn’t need to go to the ends of the earth to prove we were in good health.
What did we choose? updated June 2017
As of 2013 this was our plan – In the end we selected the basic preventative coverage with Mapfre, which includes travel and dental. This also covers us for emergency medical around the world, including the US. We have already used the dental and it is great. In hindsight, I think this was the right option for us at the time. Our needs will change as we move on to Southeast Asia, so we will again go through an evaluation of our coverage needs for that time period.
Perhaps next year, I think I would prefer full coverage plan offered with Sanitas Expats (including hospitalization). I really liked the on-line service with Sanitas and they have all of their documents in English as well as Spanish. They do cater more to the expats, but their prices shows that. When they sent us a quote they offered on that was geared more towards expats and had regular coverage in the US as well. They partner with United Health in the US, so that way we wouldn’t need to worry if we return to the US for a trip.
Updated: As of June 2016
Upon our return to Spain we again researched all of the options and selected DKV Seguros (this is great for the renewal, but not likely for initial visa application. They do require Spanish bank account and address). We have full medical, hospitalization, and dental coverage for our family of 4, including 90 days of travel insurance outside of Spain.
It is a network provider system, so as long as we are within the network we have a very low copay. There are several different levels of coverage you may choose from. The price for our family of 4 is €347 a quarter. With the current exchange rate of $1.14 to €1 that comes out to $395 per quarter or about $1600 for the entire year. We get all preventative medical and dental (cleaning etc) included once a year. There is also a smart phone app for providers within the network and much more. I think we will be very happy with this option and the price is better than our basic travel insurance.
The Spanish Insurance companies we have received quotes from are listed below. They all have on-line tools available for you to receive a quote and explain their varieties of coverage for healthcare in Spain.
Live a Healthy Life!
Medical Insurance Companies in Spain for Expats
(US Citizens applying for non lucrative visa in Spain)
Sanitas for Expats – click here for a quote
This is specifically for expats and will certainly meet the visa requirement needs. If you are from 65-74, this may be your best option. Hundreds of our clients have opted for this Spanish health insurance to meet their visa requirements and have continued to stay with them over the years. Their age limit is a bit higher than the others.
The office wich we provide a link to, speaks English and caters to the expats. We have a comparison chart of their various plans on our AlmunecarInfo Site, but it is valid for all of Spain. By clicking on this link you will be able to make an inquiry and they will help you determine the best insurance package to meet your needs.
Some American friends of ours, currently in Spain, were specifically seeking out Maternity coverage, and it appears that Sanitas offers good coverage as well. Some friends of ours (US Citizens) in town also use Sanitas. Much of their site is in English and they offer a live chat, so it is great for asking all types of questions. We received a “same day” quote for coverage , plus they sent us a detailed list of alternative options. Great customer service.
Updated: As of June 2017– Many do like you to have a Spanish bank account for payment. If you don’t have one, they will likely ask for payment of a full year in advance.
(If you decide to make a purchase through our link, we may receive a small commission)
- Mapfre (This is what we had for our first 2 years. It was very affordable, but we didn’t use it for anything, so can’t inform you of the claims process or anything)
- Catalana Occidente (Of all of the quotes we received, this seemed to be the most expensive for our family, so we didn’t opt for this one.)
Our plan is the DKV Integral Complet, through our local Zurich Agent in Almunecar. I am not sure if you need to reside in Spain to get this or if you can purchase in advance for the visa. Locally for us, it seems to be the same network of doctors available in the Sanitas plans. Do your homework. Updated: As of June 2107
Some of our readers, now residing in Spain, recommend this company. They sent us the information for the company they use. We have not received a quote from them or used their services. We just wanted to provide you with other options. Updated: November 2105
A word of caution with any of the US based health insurance companies; please read the fine print and be sure they have coverage in Spain. Ask someone and then ask a second person, just to be sure it will be widely accepted in Spain. We do know of several families who purchased the US coverage and then once in Spain realized, they weren’t easily covered. No one knew what the company was and there wasn’t a wide network that would accept it for coverage. They ended up cancelling and switching to a Spanish company and buying Spanish health insurance.
Please do your own research and let us know if you find any other Spain medical insurance companies you would recommend. Just contact us, so we can add them to the list or just enter in the information in the comments below. We want to be sure that you have enough information to make a decision based on your needs for your expat insurance.
It has been said there is a program to join the Spain healthcare system after living in Spain for 1 year. We do not have experience with this and cannot advise on using the Spanish healthcare system.
Do you have a Pre existing condition?
We are not experts in this area, as we didn’t have any pre existing conditions. Don’t completely give up hope. We have heard from some clients and some health insurance carriers, that coverage will vary for a pre existing condition. You may be able to receive coverage, depending on the condition. I addition, we have heard there are carriers who will allow a policy, excluding the condition (meaning you are completely covered except for your condition). Others will not cover you at all. It depends on the insurance carrier and the flexibility of obtaining travel insurance instead will vary based on which consulate you go to in the US (your aligned consulate is your only choice).
Best of luck with your Spain private health insurance hunt!
Helpful Spanish Vocabulary
- Doctor in Spanish – Medico
- I need an appointment – Necesito una cita
- I have an appointment – Tengo una cita
- Private – Privado
- Insurance in Spanish – Seguro
- Pain – Dolor
- I hurt or I have pain – Me duele
- Health or healthy in Spanish – Salud
- Blood – Sangre
With the non lucrative visa, you are required to show proof of Spanish health insurance each time you renew. After the first year, you may renew 2 times for 2 years each. That will give you a total of 5 years in Spain. After that 5 year mark, you apply for the long duration residency. With that residency, you are automatically allowed to work in Spain and if you work and pay into the social security etc, you will be able to join the Spanish healthcare system.
Other information we have provided regarding “How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen or Canadian Citizen” are listed below.
- Doesn’t a US citizen need a visa to live in Spain?
(Spanish Resident Visa)
- Where oh where is that Spanish non-lucrative resident visa?
- 10 Tips for Spanish Resident Visa Application –
for the US Citizen or American Traveler
- Tips For Getting Settled In Spain – Resident Card, Bank, School, Phone
- Spanish Resident Card Renewal Process – What is going on?
- Legality in Spain
Of course Alan has written a very thorough e-book, Live in Spain, which walks you, step by step, through the entire process.
*********Our First eBook Launch! – Live In Spain*********
If you decide Travel Insurance works best for you, we recommend Travel insurance from Worldnomads.com otherwise do your research for your choice of medical insurance Spain.
Updated: As of June 2105
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