The EHIC, European Health Insurance Card allows anyone who is insured by or covered by a statutory social security scheme of EEA countries and Switzerland, to receive medical treatment in another member state free or at a reduced cost, when treatment becomes necessary during their visit, for example, due to illness or an accident. The term of validity of the EHIC varies depending on the issuing country.
The intention of the scheme is to allow people to continue their stay in a country without having to return home for medical care. Therefore, it does not cover people who have visited a country for the purpose of obtaining medical care, nor does it non essential care, which can be delayed until the individual returns to his or her home country. The costs not covered by self-liability fees are paid by the issuing country, which is usually the country of residence. It only covers healthcare which is normally covered by a statutory health care system in the visited country, so it is not a replacement for travel insurance.
Entitlement to EHIC
The welfare system in Spain, provides protection to those people who fall within its scope.
¨The public authorities shall maintain a public social security system for all citizens, guaranteeing sufficient support and social benefits in situations of need, especially in the event of unemployment, and that the support and additional benefits shall be free – Article 41 Spanish Constitution of 1978¨
Those who fall within the range of the act include Spanish nationals who reside in Spain and non-Spanish citizens who are residing or are staying legally in Spain, provided that in both cases they are carrying out their activities on Spanish national territory. The welfare system covers employees, self-employed or sole proprietor businesses, members of associated work co-operatives, students and civil servants.
What does the Welfare System in Spain provide?
Social Security in Spain, as in the UK, is the means for gaining access to health care, unemployment payments, state pension and other benefits. In the UK your National Insurance Number is used to identify you for both tax and social security. In Spain however you have to get a separate Social Security number, and once you have this you can start paying into the system and accessing state health and welfare benefits.
Who has to pay Social Security in Spain?
Anyone living and working in Spain must register with the Social Security system and make these contributions in order to gain access to benefits. This may be through being employed by a company (so deducted at source from your salary), or by being self-employed (Autónomo) and making their own contributions into a state scheme specifically for the self-employed.
The overall rate for social security in Spain contributions is high in Spain compared to the UK, but the benefits are also more generous. For example, compared to the UK, the Spanish system rewards pensioners who’ve paid in more to a much greater extent. So if you make higher contributions over the years, on retirement you will gain a higher pension, unlike the UK, that has a flat rate.Of course if you are employed,the employer pays the majority of the cost.