People with private health insurance are benefiting from private health services flourishing across the country.

GD/AD – 02/2019

Companies operating within Spain’s private health insurance system welcomed an estimated one million new members between 2013 and 2019. According to the English-language online edition of ‘El Pais’, this is the result of underfunding of the Spanish public healthcare system. In particular, the dramatically long waiting lists in the public system are driving younger, ‘insurable’ people to Spanish private health insurance funds.

According to research carried out by ‘El Pais’, there were around 584,000 people on a waiting list for surgery in a public hospital at the end of June 2018, with an average waiting period of 93 days.


Depending on the field of medicine, the extent of the procedure and the degree of being able to plan, people living in the Basque country, with an average of 8.02 people on a waitlist per 100,000 inhabitants, are significantly better off than their compatriots in Catalonia where 21.44 per 100,000 patients are on a waiting list. Coming off worst are patients in the Canary Islands with an average of 147 days waiting for treatment, Castilla-La Mancha (137 days) and Catalonia (132 days).

Those in the private health insurance sector are trying to play down the widening gap between the underfunded public system and the strictly selective private system. According to El Pais, despite the persistent efforts of remaining staff, the visible deterioration of infrastructure in the public sector is at odds with the picture put forward that private health insurance in Spain is just a ‘small value-added’ to a supposedly high-performance system. As early as 2017, 11.5 million Spaniards – if they could afford it and passed the risk assessment – had private health insurance. They continue to pay their taxes to finance the regulatory system.