A comprehensive guide to children’s healthcare in Spain, including mental, physical, and dental care, when using the public and private healthcare systems.
If you’re a parent moving to Spain with your children, or are an expat planning to start your family in Spain, you’ll be pleased to know that Spain’s healthcare system ranks in the top 10 worldwide. As of 2017, Spain was listed eighth in the world, and achieved a 99 out of 100 score in its maternity treatment.
Spain offers free healthcare services to all children residing in the country, as well as additional private healthcare options. Globality Health explains what children’s healthcare in Spain is like, including information on specialists, dentists, and mental health services.
Children’s healthcare in Spain
People who are registered with social security or have healthcare insurance in Spain have access to health coverage. Consequently, women with private healthcare or those registered within the social security system automatically qualify for care before, during, and following childbirth. All children residing in Spain are entitled to free state healthcare, including dental care until age 15. Children visiting from other European countries and certain countries with bilateral healthcare agreements may also be eligible to receive healthcare in Spain.
Many families residing in Spain opt for private healthcare as package deals are offered, giving a range of benefits to both parents and their children. In particular, private health insurance allows access to multilingual services, dental packages, and reduced waiting times for specialists in comparison to the public service.
The healthcare offered to children in Spain includes:
- Pre-natal and post-natal care
- Paediatric care up until age 15 (and standard care from a general practitioner afterwards)
- Free vaccinations until age 14
- Dental care until age 15
- Access to 23 different types of speciality practitioners
- Prolonged benefits in both standard healthcare and dental care for children with physical or mental disabilities
- Dental and physical health education, including information on nutrition
- Free emergency services, including free emergency dental care
Globality Health is an international health insurance provider with expertise in providing exceptional cover for expats. More than 3,000 experts are on hand around the world to offer individual advice, solutions and services.
The Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality regulates healthcare in Spain, providing a variety of information, including annual reviews of vaccination schedules, assessments of emerging diseases, and educational materials. However, each autonomous community in Spain has its own healthcare services and regulations that are relevant to residents of that region.
Vaccinations in Spain
It is not a legal requirement for children to be immunized, but it is highly recommended. Spain has 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities, each with their own official vaccination schedule. Additionally, the Advisory Committee on Vaccines of the Spanish Association of Paediatrics updates the immunization schedule every year.
- Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, Haemophilus influenzae type B, meningococcus C, and human papilloma virus.
- Certain risk groups can obtain vaccines for chicken pox, pneumococcus, and influenza.
The general recommended vaccination schedule for children in Spain can be found at the Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality.
Taking your child to see a doctor or specialist in Spain
In order for you or your child to see a doctor in Spain, you must register with a local practitioner. Doctors can be found in health centres, hospitals, or individual practices. Some doctors provide treatments through both state and private services.
There are 23 branches of paediatric specialties in Spain. In order to see a specialist through the state system, your child’s paediatrician or primary care physician must provide you with a referral. Waiting times can be long for diagnostics and other specialist services.
Private healthcare insurance often allows you to visit specialist clinics directly. It often has substantially shorter wait times for specialist care compared to the state service, and additionally provides medical services in multiple languages.
Dental care for children in Spain
Under the Spanish health system, dental treatments are offered to children between the ages of 7 and 15 in the form of an annual check-up, and emergency treatments are offered to all ages. Annual check-ups typically cover fissure sealing, topical fluoride applications, mouth cleanings, and cavity fillings. However, each autonomous community in Spain has some variation in what it offers for children’s dental care.
For instance, Madrid’s regional government created a plan that offers dental care for children aged 6 to 16, and includes additional, unlimited services such as endodontics, crown placement, and dental reconstruction. Children in this region who have mental or physical disabilities are able to receive dental care until age 18. In the province of Catalunya, all children residing in the region are able to receive dental care between ages 7 and 17.
Private healthcare is a popular option when seeking dental care in Spain as it guarantees complete coverage, regardless of regional residency.
Children’s mental health in Spain
Mental healthcare is a standard service in Spain and is covered differently under each region’s health system. However, in all regions, child psychologists and psychiatrists are available through public and private healthcare systems.
Most hospital paediatric departments include mental health services. Certain departments focus on eating disorders, while others specialize in attention deficit and hyperactivity or addictive behaviours. Inpatient beds and day beds are available, with numbers varying depending on region.