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Medical Tourism to Spain

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Spain is a renowned medical tourism destination. Despite recent economic woes, the sunny climate, several vacation spots coupled with abundance of high quality medical facilities that makes Spain a very attractive destination for medical tourists.

The Spanish health system is sophisticated and offers many high-quality facilities at the fraction of cost of hospitals in the United States and neighboring countries, attracting a growing number of medical travelers from the British Isles as well as from the Middle East and North Africa.

Problems with rising cost of healthcare and long waiting times have driven medical tourists from the UK and Ireland to seek alternative healthcare providers elsewhere, and Spain has pulled through as a preferred health tourism destination.

Healthcare System in Spain

The World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked the Spanish healthcare system as the 7th best in the world. According to a more recent 2014 Bloomberg report on efficiency of health care systems, Spain scored better than Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and Germany and way above United States that scored 44th place. Spain has more than 800 hospitals serviced by 450,000 doctors and nurses. All of the hospitals in Spain are recognized and supervised by the Spanish Ministry of Health.

Spanish doctors are trained for at least 6 to 7 years before they are qualified and can be given their degrees. Specializations, such as those required for surgeons, require additional years of study and training before the doctors are certified as licensed.

There are several health facilities in Spain, both private and state-owned, that have specialized departments catering exclusively for medical tourists. International patients can avail themselves of the services of English-speaking doctors and medical staff, who have undergone rigorous medical schooling and practical training in institutions that are recognized in the European Union and the General Medical Council in Great Britain.

There are 23 health facilities in Spain that are accredited by the Joint Commission International. These facilities are also accredited by the Fundacion Avedis Donabedian (FAD), an accreditation partner by the JCI. Most of the JCI-accredited health facilities are hospitals, while others offer ambulatory care or care continuum programs.

Major Hospitals for Medical Tourism in Spain

  • Centro Médico Teknon - Barcellona
  • Hospital Universitario de Madrid - Madrid
  • Hospital Quirón Barcelona - Barcellona
  • Hospital Quirón Madrid - Madrid

Common Treatments Done by Medical Tourists in Spain

Hospitals and healthcare facilities in Spain offer top-of-the line procedures and services for medical travelers, including complicated medical procedures and treatments, which include but are not limited to the following:

Cost of Medical Treatments in Spain

It is estimated that on average, medical tourists from the US and UK can expect savings of 30%-70% for many procedures. The following are cost comparisons between Medical procedures in Spain and equivalent procedures in the United Kingdom: [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11]
Medical Procedures
Procedure UK Hospitals Spain Average Savings
Hip Replacement £12,000 £4,800 60%
Total Knee Replacement £9,000 - £10,000 £6,000 - £7,000 30% - 33%
Arthroscopy £3,150 £658 79%
Carpal Tunnel Release £1,500 £1,072 28%
Hip Resurfacing Surgery £13,100 £6,000 54%
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Procedure UK Hospitals Spain Average Savings
Face Lift (rhytidectomy) £7,300 £4,500 38%
Breast Augmentation (Mammoplasty) £3000 - £5000 £3,000 - £3,500 20% - 35%
Breast Reduction £6,900 £3,500 49%
Breast Uplift £5,300 £3,200 39%
Buttock Lift £4,000 - £4,500 £3,800 - £4,300 4% - 5%
Liposuction £3,000 - £4,000 £1,500 - £2,000 40% - 50%
Nose Lift (Rhinoplasty) £3,000 - £3,800 £2,400 - £2,800 20% - 26%
Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) £4,500 - £5,000 £3,500 - £4,000 20% - 22%
General and Cosmetic Dentistry
Procedure UK Hospitals Spain Average Savings
Gold Crowns £450 - £500 £250 - £300 40% - 44%
Dental Implants (Branemark System) £1,800 - £2,000 £700 - £750 11% - 61%
Root Canal (one canal) £200 - £250 £80 - £100 10% - 60%
Tooth Whitening (Britesmile method) £550 - £600 £300 - £350 41% - 45%

Malpractice and Liability Laws in Spain

The National Medical Association in Spain has adopted the malpractice and liability standards that were set by the World Medical Association.
In Spain, the public hospitals, health centers and medical practitioners have coverage from private insurance companies.

There is currently (as of 2009), no insurance system for private doctors and hospitals, and liability claims are paid directly from the health institution's budget.

Pros

  • Excellent healthcare system

    Spain healthcare system is ranked 7th best in the world (WHO World Health Report )
  • Reasonable costs of accommodation and food

    Spain maintains a low cost of living, resulting in cost-effective travel, hospital and hotel expenses
  • Easy to get around

    Spain is a highly developed country, where airports, roads and trains are modern and convenient.
  • Vacation destination

    Spain offers an excellent culinary and vacation environment for medical travelers recuperating from treatments and procedures

Cons

  • Prices

    The prices of certain medical procedures are higher when compared to medical tourism destinations in Asia or Eastern Europe.
  • Nursing standards

    Spanish nurses, although highly trained and efficient in what they do, do not perform nursing duties that are normally carried out by their counterparts in other countries, such as personal care and feeding. For this reason all Spanish hospitals allow at least a single companion for 24 hours a day

Traveling to Spain

There are several major airline carriers traveling to Spain directly from major cities in Europe, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Train lines from most European cities are also available.

Air travel - average estimated travel time in hours
From/To Spain
London 2
Dublin 2
Jordan 5
UAE (Dubai) 8
Morocco 2
Algiers 1
Libya 4
New York 8
Los Angeles 12

Entry and Exit Requirements to Spain

Medical tourists coming to Spain from any of the EU member states do not need a visa to enter Spain. They need to produce proof of nationality such as a passport or a national identity card.

Medical tourists to Spain from Africa, Asia and the Middle East need a visa prior to entry and should coordinate with the Spanish embassy at their countries of origin.

Medical tourists coming from the US and Canada can stay for up to 3 months without an entry visa requirement.

Statistics for Medical Tourism in Spain

Spain is expected to double the number of medical tourists to 200,000 that visit the country by 2019. The country is currently investing heavily in the market to pursue this goal to attract visitors from the EU, Russia, Morocco and the US.

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