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The Spanish health system

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Spain, with a little more than 39 million inhabitants, has a GDP per capita lower than that of its European counterpart France. but couple of statistics draw the attention: The share of the GDP devoted to health is lower than that of France (7.4% against 9.9%); in addition, the life expectancy of the Spaniards is close, if it is not higher compared to the French.

Moreover, Spain is characterized by the quasi-exemption from payment of health for all the residents. These characteristics push us to question the organization, management and quality known about Spanish health system. This paper will thus examine the general architecture of the Spanish health system in the first part of this document, before proceeding to the reforms which were carried out in this field.

Spain provides medical care to all citizens financed by taxes administered by a public institution, Insalud (Instituto Nacional de Management Sanitaria), under the joint supervision of the Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs and the Ministry of labor and social security. Over 90% of the population uses this system to be treated. It benefits the working people, pensioners, welfare recipients, people that do not have sufficient resources, as well as their dependents.

This system provides that all Spaniards have the right to choose their primary physician, by which they access the rest of the system. Most patients see their doctor within a day or two. To go see a specialist, patients must be referred by their primary physician, unfortunately the waiting lists are very long.

Access to private provision is not supported, except when the result of agreements between the public and private sectors, including to reduce hospital waiting lists or, for example, in case of an emergency that is vital.

An estimated 15% of the population is said to be using private insurance. This insurance is used either as a complement to public health or as an alternative to the public. The advantage of private insurance is that these companies have their own network of hospitals, clinics and laboratories. Policy holders usually do not have to wait long for treatment.

Tags: Spanish health care system; organization of the health system; management of the system

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