Children's healthcare in Spain: a guide for expat families | Expatica
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Last update on January 07, 2021

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, mental health services, and dentists.

Globality Health

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. 

COVID-19 in Spain

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. Many expats find themselves separated from family and loved ones in their home countries. As a foreigner, it is also sometimes difficult to find critical information regarding coronavirus infection rates, local measures and restrictions, and now, thankfully, vaccinations.

  • For general coronavirus health information in Spain, including vaccination schedules and locations, visit the Ministerio de Sanidad’s COVID-19 online resource center
  • For the latest COVID-19 measures, rules, and restrictions where you live, you may also need to visit the website of your local autonomous region

Children’s healthcare in Spain

People who are registered with Spanish social security or have health 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 to have a baby in Spain. All children residing in Spain receive 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.

Healthcare for children in Spain includes:

  • Pre-natal and post-natal care
  • Pediatric care up until age 15 (and standard care from a general practitioner afterwards)
  • Free vaccinations until age 14
  • Dental care in Spain until age 15
  • Access to 23 different types of specialty 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

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 regulations relevant to residents of that region.

Insurance for children’s healthcare in Spain

The following private international companies provide insurance packages including children’s healthcare that are suitable for expats in Spain:

Vaccinations in Spain

Immunizations are not a legal requirement for children, 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.

Currently, children up to age 14 get the following vaccinations in Spain for free under the Spanish national health service:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, Haemophilus influenzae type B, meningococcus C, and human papilloma virus.
  • Certain risk groups can obtain vaccines for chickenpox, pneumococcus, and influenza.

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 are available in health centers, individual practices, and hospitals in Spain. Some doctors provide treatments through both state and private services.

There are 23 branches of pediatric specialties in Spain. In order to see a specialist through the state system, your child’s pediatrician or primary care physician must provide 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 available to children between the ages of 7 and 15 in the form of an annual check-up, and emergency treatments are available 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 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 pediatric 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.