Health care in Spain
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, total health spending accounted for 9.4% of GDP in Spain in 2011, slightly above the OECD average of 9.3%. Health spending as a share of GDP is much lower than in the United States (which spent 16.9% of its GDP on health in 2012). The public sector is the main source of health funding in nearly all countries. In Spain, 73% of health spending was funded by public sources in 2011, very close to the average of 72% in OECD countries. Since 2010, real term spending on healthcare has declined in Spain.
In 2012, life expectancy at birth in Spain reached 82.5 years, one of the highest among OECD countries and more than two years higher than the OECD average (80.2 years). Only Japan (83.2 years), Iceland (83.0 years) and Switzerland (82.8 years) had a higher life expectancy than Spain in 2012. Spain has achieved progress in reducing tobacco consumption over the past decade, with rates of daily smokers among adults coming down 32% in 2001 to 24% in 2011. However, smoking rates in Spain still remain higher than the developed world average. At the same time, as in most other OECD countries, obesity rates among adults have increased in Spain, with the rate rising from 12.6% in 2001 to 16.6% in 2011 (based on self-reported height and weight). This is much lower than in the United States (where the obesity rate was 28.6% in 2012 also based on self-reported data), but still the growing prevalence of obesity foreshadows increases in the occurrence of health problems (such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases), and higher health care costs in the future.
In an emergency you can go straight to a hospital A&E. For any other type of hospital treatment you’ll need a referral from a doctor. There are public and private hospitals. Only the public hospitals provide free treatment. Some hospitals offer both private and state healthcare services, so make sure the staff knows which service you want. When you go to hospital you’ll need to show your social security card or proof of private insurance. If you are discharged from a hospital and need medication, you have to take the hospital medical report to a pharmacy for the prescription to be fulfilled, as hospital doctors don’t issue prescriptions.
In a sample of 13 developed countries Spain was second in its population weighted usage of medication in 14 classes in both 2009 and 2013. The drugs studied were selected on the basis that the conditions treated had high incidence, prevalence and/or mortality, caused significant long-term morbidity and incurred high levels of expenditure and significant developments in prevention or treatment had been made in the last 10 years. The study noted considerable difficulties in cross border comparison of medication use.
- OECD Health Systems Report 2014
- Office of health Economics. "International Comparison of Medicines Usage: Quantitative Analysis" (PDF). Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. Retrieved 2 July 2015.