Type 1 Diabetic Moving to Spain


My partner and I are thinking of moving to Spain in the coming year after a long time of thinking about it. The main thing holding me back is the fact I am type 1 diabetic (the insulin dependent auto-immune variety not the other more prevalent one!). I currently use a Medtronic 640g Pump using Humalog and a Libre Freestyle 2 which is paid for by the NHS and would be very keen to keep using these as my quality of life depends on them. Can anyone tell me if these things would be covered on the Spain NHS? If so does anyone know what sort of criteria I would have to meet in order to get this entitlement? If it isn't covered would it be a case of completely private funding?

It is the main thing holding me back and I don't want it to continue to hold us back if it isn't the big hurdle I imagine!

Thanks in advance everyone.


Hi Gareth, you haven't said what age you both are? If you are both retired then you will receive free healthcare which will entitle you to your medication. To do this you will have to fill out an S1 form from the uk and it's submitted when you apply for Spanish residency. If you are not of retirement age then you will have to pay for private healthcare and you have to have this in place when you apply for residency and it's not altogether cheap. Medication in Spain is so much cheaper than the uk but I can't unfortunately speak for your type 1 diabetes medication. I have friends who take medication for type 1 but they are residents and pension age so they don't pay for that. Nicola.

@Klang180 also forgot to say the the Spanish nhs system is only for people paying into the system, ie: Spanish residents working in Spain, or Spanish residents who are retired. If you are neither of those then you have to take the private healthcare route. Nicola.

Hello Nicola, thanks for your response. Sorry should have provided more detail. I'm 40 and my partner is 38 and we would work remotely whilst there. My partner is a freelance copy editor and so can work anywhere whilst I am trying to build my remote working potential (I currently work for a uni remotely here in the UK) probably with TEFL type teaching.

I would expect to have to pay into the system to receive its benefits but do you know how quickly one can do this and how much is the minimum before you do this? Can you voluntarily pay more into the system from savings instead of PAYE?

Hi. I think you may have misunderstood, you can't get into the Spanish nhs system here unless you are working for a Spanish company in spain and on a Spanish contract. By doing the above you will be given a tarjeta de sip which grants you the privileges of the Spanish state hospitals. This is the only way that you will receive treatment with the Spanish nhs. Due to your age you would need to take out private medical insurance which isn't cheap and you would need this until you retire unfortunately. It's not like the uk where anyone can receive treatment on the nhs, you physically need to have Spanish employment with a company here to be entitled to that. I think you will need to do a lot of homework to see if it's going to be the right thing for you to do as it will be costly having to pay for private medical insurance until you retire and also for the medication you need. Nicola.

Hello Nicola, thanks for your replies, much appreciated. Ok so you only start to gain eligibility once you have a Spanish contract and pay taxes through that and even then only after a year of doing so right? Leaving aside the fact it makes no sense that a retired person from another country would just get this (they'd be less economically active surely???) how does one get any help with healthcare in Spain if not a Spanish worker? I mean if you are say a digital nomad or you are resident in the country but work for a non Spanish company say as a freelancer? Surely if you work freelance, pay your taxes in Spain then you are entitled?

There is no way I can self fund for 25 years if that is the only option so as a T1 diabetic who wants their medical supplies covered what are my options? (Always surprises me that a condition that is already pretty hard to live with is often then compounded by making you pay for it too!). I would have thought Spain was more progressive than most places so I would have thought there was a way to contribute to the Spanish economy but also get entitlement to healthcare or are you saying the only way is to work as a Spanish worker in a Spanish company?

@Klang180 * See my last paragraph about paying for prescriptions as you might not know that either*

You gain eligibility when you are working in Spain and paying your taxes, not sure where your one year assumption came from though, maybe a mistake on your part? As soon as you gain residency and can prove that you are working in Spain (via social security etc) then you get your state healthcare. All pensioners gain state healthcare here regardless of what country they are from because they are pensioners, it's that simple. In british cases they obtain an S1 form from from the uk and that automatically gives them healthcare free of charge, there are no exceptions, only the above two reasons I've given.

You would need to obtain private healthcare if you don't meet the above criteria, everyone has to do this if they don't meet the above. Everyone who lives in Spain that is under pension age and does not work in Spain has to have private medical cover, you won't get residency without it!

You will pay your taxes in Spain regardless if you are getting state healthcare or not. We all do. You either pay “Non residents tax” annually or “Residents tax” annually. We all have to pay it by law annually.

Unfortunately you have to do what hundreds and thousands of people do and pay for private healthcare. Why do you think a lot of people come to Spain when they retire?

Something else for you to consider! Even when you are working here in Spain and are eligible for state healthcare you still have to pay for your meds, just not as much. If you work in Spain and have your tarjeta de sip you would pay 40% of the prescription cost each time you had a prescription. If your medications are expensive then that's a cost you have to factor in to your plan. Pensioners and under 18's don't pay.

@Klang180 This is a good article for people thinking about moving to Spain that you might not have seen. It explains private medical care, how much money you need in your bank account to get residency etc. It's from visit Andalusia but the area doesn't matter, the whole of Spain is exactly the same.https://www.visit-andalucia.com/spanish-residency-visas-non-eu/I'm here if you have any questions, Nicola.

@nicolaespana " All pensioners gain state healthcare here regardless of what country they are from because they are pensioners, it's that simple."

I am not sure if you meant to say "regardless of what country in the EU?"

I guarantee you American pensioners do not 'gain state healthcare' unless they apply for the Convenio Especial after a year of residence and must pay $157 per month to the government for it. Almost the same cost as private, but it covers pre-existing. The Convenio Especial is public healthcare, but it does not cover everything. The Convenio Especial is not offered in all provinces.  The British have a special arrangement, but other third country nationals do not.

Hi - I moved to Spain 3 years ago from the UK after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 8 weeks before moving. As you can imagine my first worry was how do I get medication. I work still for a UK company so when I first landed I wasn't a resident but was able to get my insulin and my libre (plus all normal checks) using the European healthcare card (now it's called global). I paid then the same as I do now as a resident through the health system which is €4.87 a box for my insulin, so next to nothing. The libre and everything else is free. I got residency through my wife who is Spanish and get my public healthcare through that now but it took over a year to sort but I used the free healthcare card fine whilst it all went through. If you're freelance then you can set up a limited company like you do in the UK and pay what they call autónomo, this would get you your healthcare and avoids going private. I have a few friends here doing that. The other option you have is you can continue to get your healthcare in the UK and have someone send your libres out. The insulin you would probably be best just flying back and picking up a big batch at the time so you have a couple of options.

your biggest challenge is just getting the right to stay here with not working for a Spanish company. I got messed around a lot but ended up sorting it through my wife being Spanish (we got told a lot of bad information so would have been quicker if I took this route at the start). I did read recently about there being a new rule for digital nomads so that's probably your best option.