We got back to Valencia and now we’re on Spanish National Health. It was in the works before we decided to make the sharp left turn to Portugal in July. But now it’s official. And it feels kind of good. Like we have a net under our safety net.
I was telling another expat friend about it and she said ‘But the private hospitals are so good here. Are you willing to give that up by giving up your private insurance?’
And it is true. Private insurance is cheap here by US standards. The private hospitals here are excellent. I should know. But during the pandemic the government conscripted them all to manage the capacity. So I likely would have ended up in a private one anyway. And after our friend had his stroke this past February, and I visited him in the public hospital – La Fe – I feel great about the quality of the building, the state of the art equipment, the high quality of care, and staff that speaks Ingles. Because when you go to the Dr. you want to communicate in your native tongue. No matter how good your local lingo skills are.
So for now we have both private and national health. But after the first of the year we will be switching over to just Spanish National Health. As of October 1st we have begun contributing to the Social Security system in Spain. This means that we qualify for medical care at 60 euros per month – for the whole enchilada. That’s like $65-70 per month total to my fellow Americans out there. No copay. No Insurance company saying ‘Yeah, no. You don’t seem sick enough to us, 3000 miles away, for that treatment your Dr. has decided upon since he’s actually seen you. We insist you try 2 Tylenol and a well documented nap before we allow a Dr. to prescribe any real treatment. And then we’ll take 6 months and 5 appeals to approve it. Good luck!’ Here, the Dr. just gets to decide – today. Funny how they don’t just order tests willy-nilly – like they tell you Doctors are prone to do in the US. (Psst…it was never true). Just imagine it, America. Meds covered at 90%. And when I say 90% it’s 90% of a $2.00 prescription that would cost $100 per month in the US. So I’ll pay 20 cents. I could pay for my meds from the change jar by the front door that I keep for when the little Falleras come to collect for Fallas. Or the change I find in the couch cushions. And No limits on coverage. I can break all my limbs, twice, and they won’t scream ‘Pre-existing condition! No soup for you!’ Holy Moly. Spain and Italy lead the world in the quality of healthcare. I could almost cry.
This means that we’re also contributing, along with our taxes, to the retirement scheme. Will we ever get a payout? Probably not. But who knows what the future holds. After 2020, I will never act like I know anything, about anything, past lunchtime.
Will we still go see a private dentist? Yes. I love mine and will see her next week for the cost of more change from the couch. But for everything else it’s good to know we’re covered and it won’t break the bank. We can grow old and grey on Spanish National Health – happily. And they have reciprocal agreements cause it’s all part of being members of the EU. So we will get full care no matter where we are in the Europe. No more travel insurance. In annual surveys, they say the happiest people in the world live in Scandinavia. They pay the highest taxes in the world but they are cared for cradle to grave. Parental leave, day care, health care, education (including university), assistance with job losses and retraining, and elder care. I’m past the parental leave, daycare and education, and I don’t know what kind of coverage Spain has for these things. But the soup to nuts health care here in Spain I will happily enjoy. As Forest Gump famously said ‘Just one less thing.’