How does healthcare work for Americans in Spain?


“How does healthcare work for Americans in Spain?”

How does healthcare work for Americans in Spain?


These are the answers of Spainguru’s Facebook group members:

“It works far, far better than it does for them in the states. Value = Outcome/Price. The USA doesn’t have a health care system, it has a medical care system. The ownership class can’t profit from selling Medical Care to healthy people, hence the poor outcomes and general poor health of the people.

In Spain ‘The people’ aka government benefits by keeping the people healthy so that they care which they provide is affordable. One system spends 20% of its GDP on Medical Care, with shitty outcomes, while the other spends half that percentage, with world leading outcomes.”

“There are pros and cons of both healthcare systems. Healthcare is very expensive in Spain too (through taxes). Politicians in Spain (ownership class) do profit and do manage tax € poorly. Some services in Spain are excellent, some are awful. Born and raised in Spain. US citizen and living in the US now. Family works in healthcare in Spain, I work in healthcare in the US.”

“Your opinion is… your opinion, however the facts are that the USA spends 16.6% of its GDP (PIB) for healthcare, Spain only 10.5%. Spain’s life expectancy is 83.2 years, the USA only 76.3. Spend a lot more, live a lot less longer. But hey, you’re entitled to whatever opinion you want and to live wherever you’ll die sooner.”

“100% agreed. My parents have Medicare and pay little money to have their doctors at Stanford. My Dad had a triple bypass surgery in 2019 at Stanford and paid something like $3,000 for everything. In my case, I’d rather take care myself of my healthcare insurance than having to pay taxes and the government handles it for me.”

“That’s just lying with statistics. Yes, we are all just sharing our point of view. Healthcare expenditure is just one of many factors affecting life expectancy, it’s not just about the healthcare system. Examples of why Spanish live longer are also much better food culture, closer family relationships, way less thugs shooting and killing others.”

“My 20 min echocardiogram was $8,000 last year. The US healthcare system is horrible and consistently places far below EU healthcare systems, in terms of quality and cost.”

“Cognitive dissonance is described as the mental discomfort people feel when their beliefs and actions are inconsistent and contradictory with reality, ultimately making them change one factor (either their beliefs or actions) to align better.

The United States has the highest healthcare expenditure per capita among OECD countries, with $12,555 in 2022, which is over $4,000 more than any other high-income nation, yet has third-world health care outcome metrics including a declining life expectancy, an increasing infant mortality rate, and many metrics of the life in between of living less healthy (obesity, diabetes, etc.).”


The discussion among Americans in Spain about healthcare highlights a general consensus that healthcare in Spain provides better value for money compared to the United States. Participants pointed out the efficiency of the Spanish healthcare system and its outcomes versus the high cost and less favorable outcomes in the U.S. system.

Here are five concise takeaways:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Spain’s healthcare system is generally seen as more cost-effective compared to the U.S., offering better outcomes for less expenditure.
  2. System Focus: Unlike the U.S., which focuses on medical care, Spain emphasizes holistic healthcare, leading to better health metrics.
  3. Quality Variance: While some variability exists, overall, healthcare quality in Spain is highly regarded by expatriates.
  4. Affordability: Major medical procedures in Spain can be significantly less expensive than in the U.S., providing substantial cost savings.
  5. Lifestyle Benefits: Cultural factors like diet and family dynamics, alongside a universal healthcare approach, contribute to Spain’s higher life expectancy.

The debate reflects a mix of personal experiences and broader statistical evidence, showing both satisfaction with Spanish healthcare and criticisms of the system’s challenges.