Health system in Spain

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In Spain, there is top-quality medicine for everyone – regardless of income, age, social background, and personal risk of illness – and with very short waiting times in international comparison.

For many people, personal health is the greatest good. With the emergence of modern industrial societies at the end of the 19th century, health and medical care also gained increasing political importance. Since then, many areas related to health have been regulated by law.

The Spain health system is a so-called dual health insurance system. One can insure oneself in the statutory health insurance ( GVK ), on the other hand, there are private health insurances (PKV). Around 85 percent of the total population in Spain have statutory insurance. Statutory insurance can take out additional private insurance.

Since the 2007 health reform, everyone who has their place of residence or habitual abode in Spain must have health insurance. That has almost been achieved.

Spain Healthcare Technology is characterized by two other special features: self-administration and the principle of benefits in kind in the statutory health insurance.

Health insurance companies and associations of statutory health insurance physicians are self-governing bodies under public law. They, therefore, carry out the tasks assigned to them by law on their own responsibility. The state only sets the legal framework and carries out legal supervision. This means that these bodies are not directly part of the state administration and that there is no technical supervision by the state and the associated right to issue instructions.

In addition, there is a joint self-administration of the service providers and cost bearers. Instead of state requirements, these should jointly shape many aspects of the health system in more detail. The most important body at the federal level is the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA). In addition to numerous other tasks, the G-BA has to decide in a number of cases which medical services are to be included in the GVK service catalog and which are not.

Thanks to the benefits in kind principle, those with statutory health insurance receive medical benefits without having to make advance payments. The service providers, such as doctors, pharmacies, midwives, and other providers of health services, settle accounts directly with the health insurance companies or, in the case of contract medical care, with the statutory health insurance associations. International comparisons of the Spain health system are difficult because health systems are complex and differently embedded in society as a whole. In Spain, for example, the population is comparatively older. If this fact is taken into account, then, within the OECD countries, Spain is no longer one of the countries with the highest proportions of health expenditure in gross domestic product.

On the benefits side, Spain has one of the best health systems in the world. In addition to the extensive catalog of medical services, waiting times for doctor’s appointments and hospital treatment – also in the statutory health insurance – are very short in Spain

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