Healthcare in Spain

Whenever we think of healthcare in a foreign land, we immediately think, “will it be expensive and of the same quality as what we’re used to?” In fact, the quality of healthcare in Spain is excellent and many doctors and nurses speak English.

The health service is run along a two-tier system similar to that in the UK. The first tier is the National Health Service and the second is the private health care sector, which is covered by health insurance. Whether you are a native of Spain or a British citizen, if you are making social security contributions then you immediately qualify for the National Health Service. Otherwise, it is best to have some kind of private health insurance. We have personally experienced both sides of the Spanish healthcare system.

Private Health Care

When we first moved to Spain, we had very little experience of the lifestyle and that included provision for healthcare. As we were both reasonably healthy and because our knowledge of the language was still limited, we were somewhat scared of approaching social security offices and medical centres to gain more information, putting it off for another day.

However, with the rise in older men developing problems with their prostrate and my awareness of prostrate cancer, I decided I needed to see a doctor for a check up. Not being eligible for the Spanish health service at the time meant I had to go private. I had this dreaded feeling “This is going to cost a fortune”. Not necessarily so.

The couple that we rented our villa from in Mojacar recommended an English speaking lady doctor in Garrucha and we found to our surprise her fee was only 40 euros per consultation. On my first visit, all my details were entered into the computer and then a comprehensive examination was done including arrangements for a blood test.

Everything was extremely thorough and the staff was very helpful wanting to get a full picture of my current state of health. I was given a letter indicating what blood tests were needed and directions to a nearby blood analysis clinic. At the clinic I was seen straight away and the necessary blood sample was taken. What was most impressive was that I was called back the very same day for my results. Back in England I would have had to have waited ten days. Even better, when I phoned the doctor an appointment was made for the next day.

The blood test results came to a cost of 80 euros, but they had tested for virtually everything. At my second consultation I was told that I would need to see a specialist in Almeria and an appointment was made for 3 days time, again very impressive and quick.

At this point I felt somewhat amazed that in less than 24 hours, I had seen a doctor, been examined, had a comprehensive blood test, seen the doctor again been reassured that I have nothing major wrong with me and an appointment made to see a specialist in a couple of days all for 120 euros. Fantastic.

When I saw the specialist in Almeria, Dr Francisco Gomez Berjon, he was most charming, spoke perfect English and was completely at ease with me. Once again I was given a thorough examination and a course of medication prescribed, a further appointment was made for six months, and his fee, only 80 euros. I now see Dr Francisco twice a year for a check up.

On the flip side of this, my wife Carol and I also had the experience of the Spanish National Health Service.

Spain National Health Service

If you have ever visited Spain you will know that pavements either don’t exist, which means you walk in the road, or are uneven and have a kerb that is about 18 inches high (how disabled people in wheelchairs get by I do not know). You will also notice that the local Spaniards always walk in the road, apparently fearless of being hit by a passing vehicle. They obviously would rather face the car than risk walking on the pavement.

Anyway, to begin our story, one Sunday morning, my wife was on her way back from the newsagent, when she tripped and fell off the pavement. Ouch! We later found out she had broken her little finger and fractured her wrist.

At the time we had just started our estate agency business and as such we had to make social security contributions which meant we qualified for free medical care. If you do not have private health insurance, you should join the Social Security system.

Once you take any job in Spain your employer is obliged to process all the paperwork for you, pay part of your contributions and deduct the other part from your salary. If you are self-employed you will have to go to the local Social Security office and fill in all the paper-work yourself. Unless your knowledge of the local language is very good, then it is probably advisable to get a gestor (official agent – a bit like a lawyer for menial bureaucracy) to do this for you. Beware of using a British accountant who doesn’t speak Spanish fluently – you may find that you have not been registered correctly.

We needed to find a hospital quickly but not ever needing emergency medical treatment in Spain we hadn’t a clue where the nearest hospital was. We found a place near the beach with a red cross painted on the outside of the building but were then advised they only take private fee paying patients. Fortunately, they directed us to a health centre on the other side of town.

As opposed to my wonderful private health care experience with English speaking staff, at this health centre, the receptionist only spoke Spanish and we had some trouble understanding each other. Fortunately for us, a doctor was passing by and kindly offered assistance. However, to our dismay we were told we had come to the wrong hospital. In fact, you are supposed to attend the hospital that is registered for the district where you live. We were then given more directions and this time found the right health centre.

We were seen straight away, only to be told that the diagnosis of a suspected broken finger needed an X-ray, but that the centre did not have an X-ray facility and we were told to go to the main general hospital in Lorca, which was 35 km away. All this time my wife behaved remarkably well even though the pain was excruciating.

As with most things in Spain everything is located in the town centre and parking was difficult. We walked to the A & E department and just like the UK – it was very busy. After explaining our problem to the reception desk, we filled in a form, and proceeded to wait. Of course, we assumed we were going to be here for hours. Actually things were very fast and after a very short wait, Carol was examined and whisked off to X-ray. After the x-ray, we waited only another ten minutes before a doctor confirmed the broken finger and fractured wrist. Carol received the necessary treatment and an appointment was made to visit the hospital in another seven days.

In all fairness if we had been better prepared it wouldn’t have turned into such a drama. The lesson to be learnt from this experience was that accidents do happen and you do need to be prepared. When you arrive at your final destination, register immediately with your local health centre, find the location of your local hospital, drive there and have a look around. Also, make a note of useful telephone numbers that you are likely to need in case of emergency and keep them close by a telephone. You never know when you may need them.

We have put together a list of various forms and information that you may find helpful.

Form E121 –
If you are a pensioner from the UK, 65 for men, 60 for women, and intend to live in Spain permanently then you can get free medical care and medications under a reciprocal agreement between EU governments; you should obtain form E121 from the DSS in the UK prior to your departure. You may need a separate form for each member of your family. This form should be handed in to the Seguridad Social (Social Security) in Spain. It provides permanent health cover and does not need to be renewed. You will receive a temporary health card and eventually you will receive a letter giving the name of the medical centre you are to visit in case of illness and a permanent card. Until the form has been registered at the social security office you are not covered for healthcare. Private health clinics will not accept this form as payment.

Form E106 –
The E106 is for people who have moved permanently to Spain but have not reached pensionable age, its period of effectiveness depends on the state of your past National Insurance contributions record. The period of medical cover commences from the date you leave the UK. You must however apply and receive your E106 entitlement form before leaving the UK to ensure you are covered and to know what that cover entitles you to.

Form E111 (EHIC) –
The best solution for someone wanting to stay in Spain for a short period of time without becoming a resident is the form E111, now replaced by the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), this card is issued by the National health Service in the UK, and you should carry it with you together with your passport at all times, in case of an emergency. This card is only to be used in cases of emergency and is not for the treatment of chronic illnesses.

Private Health Service –
If you aren’t covered by the Spanish social security, then it is imperative that you have private medical insurance. If you have private health insurance in the UK, then find out from the insurance company if they will pay your medical bills in Spain. There are a large number of private Spanish or English companies offering health insurance. The policies offered generally differ considerably in the extent of cover, limitations and restrictions, premiums, and choice of doctors, specialists and hospitals.

Health care points to remember when moving to Spain –

o Make sure you know where your nearest hospital is located.
o You need to go to the hospital registered in your district.
o If you are working in Spain then make sure you make social security payments in order to qualify for the Spanish National Health Service.
o Make sure you find a local gestor (official agent – a bit like a lawyer for menial bureaucracy) that can handle the social security paperwork for you.
o If you paying private healthcare insurance make sure you are aware of any limitations.
o Keep a list of useful telephone numbers of places to contact in case of emergencies.
o Try and learn some useful Spanish words, do not expect everyone to speak English.

Organic Products Rules the Roost at Beauty Salons and Spas

Organic products have gained immersed popularity in beauty salons and spas. Being made up of natural ingredients, they are a great alternative to cosmetics which are made of harmful chemicals. The natural ingredient of organic products is what makes it an absolute choice for utmost skin care. Not only women, but men too are spotted in beauty salons where they are busy working on their looks and taking care of their skin and hair.

What makes an organic salon work?

Organic spas are a one stop solution to all your beauty needs. Starting from pedicure, manicure, facials, bleaches and other such dedicated services, organic salons have been an absolute favorite for people all around. Massage therapies are also immensely popular and are in heavy demand these days. Spent a day at an organic spa and feel relaxed and energized. That’s the beauty of a spa and what it does to rejuvenate your body mind and soul. Beauty treatments like cosmetic therapies are also something hast makes a spa unique in their approach and offering. These days spas have picked up small to moderate cosmetic therapies and one can avoid a cosmetic surgeon’s clinic to avail the same.

Change the way you look

We all know how a simple change in the hairstyle can alter the way we look. At beauty spas and hair salons, skin and hair care is left at the hands of the industry professionals who offer the very best services that one and all craves for. The skin and hair care experts have been trained to deliver a dedicated service and hence one can’t seem to get a better option than that anywhere but in the spas. Another dedicated service that is being offered is the color treatment which is hugely popular among all age groups starting from teen to adults. Hair coloring is an essential part as it works on the roots and improper or unskilled way of coloring can lead to heavy damage including hair loss. This is one place where an organic spa seeks to differ and offer a markedly different approach. Usage of chemical free herbal products is a plus point at the organic spas where customers are always looking out for the best deal in the market.

What water does to your skin and body?

Spa refers to water treatment. Water is an essential element that works wonders both inside and outside of human body and hence works splendidly to offer remedy thus improving health without having to consume any medicines. Moreover, it also revitalizes the mind, the body and spirit and leaves you feeling all charged and energized.

Services at ease

Beauty salons and spas are always teamed up with offers all year round so it won’t be much of a difficulty to get yourself a booking. These days, many hair salons and spas offer an online booking service which makes it easy for people to book their appointments when they are busy all week and doesn’t have time to visit the spa physically.

Hair Beauty Salon – Finding Green or Eco Friendly Hair Beauty Salons

More than likely you already know that a hair beauty salon can definitely put out quite a bit of pollution. This occurs because many shampoos and dyes that are used contain chemicals that may be harmful. They are used on customers, washed away down the drain, and they can end up in soil, waterways, and even in your own bloodstream. As people are realizing that it is important to be responsible when it comes to the environment, green practices have become more popular in many areas today.

Although many of the mainstream salons are not green, you’ll find that there are many smaller green-friendly shops that are appearing through the entire country. They are working hard to ensure that they make a difference, offering green salon options. However, sometimes finding these options can be tough. One of the best ways to try to find a green beauty shop near you is to use search engines to try to find one in the area that you live.

You’ll find that one of the areas that seems to offer quite a few green hair beauty salon options is California. Southern California has several different green options that you can find and some of they cater to some of Hollywood’s top stars. Several of the top area salons are offering natural hair colors and other products that allow them to offer hair care that is environmentally friendly. You’ll even find that some of the salons are taking this a step further and using energy efficient lighting, bamboo flooring, low-VOC paint, insulation that is recycled, and of course some treatments that are earth friendly as well.

Of course, while the green trend has been popular in California for awhile, you’ll find that the idea of shops that are eco-friendly is becoming more popular across the entire country. Today its easier than every to find a green hair beauty salon that you can use on a regular basis. They often offer organic and non-toxic ingredients in their products as well as indoor surroundings that are green as well to give you a hair and beauty care experience that is totally environmentally friendly.

While you can use the search term “green salons” to try to find options in your area, another way that you can find a hair beauty salon that is going green is to search the websites of companies that offer green hair care products. Some of the top makers for salons include Modern Organic Products, Aveda, and EcoColors. Find out which shops are using these products.

If you live in an area where the beauty shops still haven’t made a move to go green, why not encourage them to make this type of a transition. Ask if they are open to carrying products that are more natural. As more people begin to search for hair and beauty services that are environmentally friendly, more and more shops are going to start catching on to this trend. Chances are that it will become easier than ever to find a green hair beauty salon near you in the next couple years.

All- – How to Identify Them and Avoid Harmful Chemicals

One of the main problems you will face when shopping for natural beauty and skin care products is determining which products are truly natural. There are literally thousands of products on the market these days claiming to be “natural.” But just because a product has the word “natural” on the label doesn’t necessarily mean its ingredients are 100% natural and free from synthetics.

It can be quite a challenge to figure out the real composition of the product, even if you are fairly well versed in reading product label jargon.

Unless you are familiar with the scientific names of every single ingredient, it can be quite tricky to figure out which ingredients are synthetic and which are natural. Some manufacturers use different names for the same or similar ingredients. And when it comes to natural ingredients, some use the common name, while others use the scientific names for plant extracts, so you might not even recognize a natural ingredient when you see it. (Helpful Tip: Look for the words “extract” or “oil” following the long scientific name – these will be natural plant extracts.)

Some manufacturers (Burt’s Bees, for example) may list the percentage of natural ingredients right on the label, which makes it a lot easier to judge. But most don’t, and even those that do don’t necessarily include this information on all of their products.

Even more confusing is the fact that some manufacturers change formulations rather frequently. So even if you find a company that does make truly all-, they may unexpectedly change their ingredient list and include synthetic ingredients where once there were none. This can be both confusing and frustrating for consumers, as you may find your favorite all-natural product line suddenly contains chemicals you don’t want on your skin.

So what is a health-conscious shopper to do?

There are a number of databases where you can find information on both man-made chemicals and plant extracts., If you are prepared to put in some time, you can find these online or at your local library. It can be a time-consuming process, at first, to look up every single ingredient you run across that you don’t recognize, but as you become familiar with the terminology, you will start to recognize certain prefixes and words that occur as components of other chemical names. Then when you see a variation of these you will at least know whether they are synthetic or natural.

You can also find databases on cosmetic safety, and natural product rating websites are becoming easier to find these days as natural beauty and person care products become more popular and mainstream.

With a little research and a keen eye, you can begin to differentiate for yourself which products are truly natural, and which ones are deceptively using the “natural” label, while still including potentially harmful synthetic chemicals in their formulations.
 
Copyright Notice: This article is copyrighted by Rose Hillbrand, September 2011. Article may be shared or republished as long as resource box below is included in its entirety.