It is no fun to be sick and it is worse if you have to pay the bill for diagnosis and treatment. However, such costs may well be covered for both visitors and residents in Catalunya from other countries.
If you are resident here, it is necessary to register with a doctor in order to receive medical treatment when you need it. Most people from outside Catalunya can have the same access to public healthcare services as a native Catalan when it comes to the treatment they can receive for free under CatSalut, the Catalunya public health system.
Registering with a doctor can be relatively simple, depending where a person has moved from. EU citizens should go to their local CAP (Centre d’Atenció Primaria) or public surgery, and take along their passport (or equivalent identification document), social security card and registration of residence document (empadronament de residència), less than three months old, from their local town hall (see 'Getting registered' in Related Content for information about getting registered). The address of your local CAP or surgery can be found via the CatSalut website or by calling CatSalut direct: tel. 902 111 444.
Non-EU citizens can also register with CatSalut, but the procedure is slightly more complicated and you may have to pay a monthly fee depending on your circumstances—contact CatSalut for further information.
You will be assigned a doctor (metge) at the CAP, and given a document identificatiu provisional until you receive your permanent TSI (targeta sanitària individual; individual health card) through the post. The CAPs provide a number of services in addition to those performed by a doctor who will refer patients to another department when necessary (for example for X-rays, blood tests, etc.). Other procedures can be carried out at CAPs without referral (for example, vaccinations, blood pressure tests and annual smear tests).
The TSI also covers emergency and hospital treatment, and in most cases reduced price prescriptions for medications subsidised by CatSalut. It is also valid for public system healthcare all over Spain. For those needing urgent medical attention when a CAP is closed (opening hours are normally 8.30am to 8.30pm) they should go to a 24-hour CAC (Centre d'Atenció Continuada; Continuous Attention Centre), or they can call the 061 medical emergency number. Everyone is entitled to receive treatment at public health centres in an emergency, but those without the necessary documentation may be required to pay later. There are special provisions for healthcare for pregnant women, new mothers and minors (up to 18 years old), whether they have a TSI or not.
Self-employed people who are registered as autónomos and make the necessary social security payments can register to be covered by CatSalut, as can pensioners who have retired here after working in another EU country (they have to have reached the official age for retiring, otherwise they may not be deemed eligible for free health care). Pensioners also receive free prescriptions but there are a number of procedures and forms that need to be completed before registering with CatSalut and these may differ depending on their country of origin. Consulates are the best places to seek clarification on this.
Visitors from EEA (European Economic Area) countries visiting Catalunya on a temporary basis are entitled to free public healthcare here provided they have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). The EHIC must be obtained from the health authority in a person’s country of origin.
NB. If for whatever reason, you are resident here but not eligible for free public health care but have economic means, you can apply for a TSI to receive the associated health services, at a monthly cost of €87.34 (2009 price). For more information, see the CatSalut website
Tel: 934 038 585
(24-hour helpline 365 days a year) Tel: 902 111 444