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. If you are making social security contributions then you immediately qualify for the National Health Service. It is best to also have some kind of private health insurance.
Many medications which require a prescription in the UK are available over the counter in Spain, such as antibiotics and inhalers. Prices will vary and it may be cheaper to obtain a prescription for particular items.
Private health insurance is widely available and on the coasts at least there are many schemes specifically aimed at British ex-pats. Some policies only cover you for emergency treatment in the home and/or an ambulance to the local hospital for example and you may find that you have to pay for the hospital treatment after you have received it.
The national emergency number is 112. The police can contact the other emergency services for you. In Andalucía, the number to call for medical emergencies is 061.
If you're receiving a UK state pension, or in receipt of long-term incapacity benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for an E121, which you should then present to the Spanish health authorities.
However, if you move to Spain to live but not work and do not receive a UK benefit, you may be eligible for up to two-and-a-half years of state healthcare cover, paid for by the UK. In this case, you will need to apply for an E106.
In order to register your E121 or E106 you will need to obtain the paperwork set out below in the following order:
Check very carefully what documents you need to fill in, and the process in which they need to be completed. Also, remember that you have to make your own photocopies before you arrive. If you forget something, it’s unlikely you will be allowed to complete the application process and you may have to come back another time.
Having obtained your certificates you must take them, along with both copies of your E106 or E121, to the local 'Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad' office. They will retain one copy and return the other copy signed and stamped to you. This copy allows you to access the Spanish healthcare system.
If you are an E121 holder, you will have to register with a doctor in Spain. As an E106 holder, it is not necessary to register with a doctor.