As is generally the case in Spain, the system of healthcare in Barcelona is excellent and holds a good reputation among both locals and expats. Even international patients have taken notice of the country's exceptional treatment, and a fair amount of foreigners travel to the city as 'medical tourists'. As a result, both the public and private healthcare sectors in Barcelona have risen to meet the challenge.
The Catalan public health system is known to locals as CatSalut and offers largely subsidised care for those who have a Targeta Sanitària Individual (TSI) healthcare card. Alongside the health card, expats will need an NIE number and Empadronamiento to access state healthcare. That said, it is often associated with long queues for simple examinations or seemingly endless waits for routine operations.
EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare here during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.
Expats moving to Catalonia are advised to make use of the robust private healthcare system in Barcelona and to invest in private health insurance. Private hospitals in Barcelona tend to be less crowded and more efficient than their public equivalents.
The Catalan capital is home to more than a quarter of all of Spain's private clinics, and such a wide variety of options has raised the standard of care in the cosmopolitan centre.
That said, expats can be assured that they will be treated by highly qualified doctors at public healthcare facilities if opting for that route.
Read more about healthcare and health insurance for expats in Spain.
Hospitals in Barcelona
Below is a list of some of the most prominent hospitals in Barcelona:
Address: Carrer de Plató, 21, 08006
Centro Médico Teknon
Address: Carrer Vilana 12, 08022, Barcelona
Hospital Universitari Dexeus
Address: Sabino Arana 5-19, 08028, Barcelona
Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona Children's Hospital
Address: Santa Rosa Street., 08950, Esplugues de Llobregat
►For info on public transport in the city, see Getting Around in Barcelona
"I have private insurance through a company called Adeslas. On the few occasions that I have gone to a doctor I had almost no wait time, it was remarkably easy, efficient and inexpensive." Read more about Dan, an American expat, and his thoughts about life in Barcelona.
"So, in Spain, if you do your empadronamiento (register at an address at the city hall) you can apply for the social/public healthcare systems. This system is paid for through taxes taken from people’s salaries but is totally free besides that. In the first years I only used the public system which was totally fine. The doctors and hospitals are of high quality but, as it’s free, waiting times are pretty long. Especially during the pandemic, it’s basically been impossible to get appointments for regular check-ups.
Since the beginning of this year I signed up for private healthcare through my employer. This is pretty common in Spain. Though I don’t think that private is necessarily better than public, it is easier to get an appointment and you can go see a specialist directly instead of having to pass by your regular doctor at the CAP first." See Linda's interview to find out how she's adapted to her new life in Spain.
Are you an expat living in Barcelona?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Barcelona. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.