In Spain the protection of health is a right enshrined in Article 43 of the Spanish Constitution and one of the guiding principles of social and economic policy. The National Health Service in Spain includes the entire infrastructure, specialized personnel and equipment intended for health provision and services. The General Law on Health regulates and protects the health system as the responsibility of the public authorities. Competence in matters of health is jointly coordinated by the Central Government, through the
Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality and the health services of each of the Autonomous Communities.
Given that each Autonomous Community has different competences in matters of health, formalizing your right to health care will depend on your place of residence. The health card and how to obtain it depends on the Autonomous Community you live in. To obtain it the general steps are as follows:
- With your identity card and your residence permit you have to go to the Office for Assistance and Information of the Social Security (CAIS) where they will give you the certificate entitling you to health care.
- With this document and your census registration you will have to go to the health centre assigned to your address. There you can apply for the health card or they will give you a health care document so that you can access all the health services.
It is important to know that in the event of an emergency all people are cared for, regardless of their legal residence status in the country.
Spain has the following health facilities:
- Medical centres: these are the organized set of technical means and facilities in which people with official degrees and professional qualifications conduct basic activities in order to improve the health of people
- Surgeries: these are medical centres which are not regarded specifically as such, as they only provide non-specialized health care in the primary field.
- Health Centres: These are centres where primary health care is applied. This is the health care unit in which family doctors and paediatricians provide health prevention and promotion services, diagnoses and basic outpatient treatment.
- Specialized centres: these are health centres where different health professionals exercise their activities, treating patients with certain pathologies, of a particular age group or with common characteristics.
- Hospitals: These are health facilities which are used for both the clinical internment of patients and specialized and complementary care.