Hello again all you Spain fans! I’m checking in to follow up on one of the questions Guille asked me during our interview, about the health care system in Spain. At that time I didn’t have much experience to share, but…drumroll please…I became a mother! So, now I have hours and hours of experience, and in a second post I will share my ideas on how to get the coveted work-life balance afterwards.
The very first question for me was if I should follow up my pregnancy in a public or private hospital (as I have private insurance through Adeslas). I started, like most mother I’ve spoken to, by going to both.
About the public system: First of all, I want to say that I’m a big fan of the fact that this system exists. It’s incredible to me that anyone can have a baby at zero cost with decent care. In my experience, I found the care through the public system to be much more transactional, the doctor didn’t seem to recognize me even after several visits, and the waiting time was much greater (at least 30 minutes waiting every time). Another difficulty for me was the appointment times were often inconvenient, in the middle of the morning, and normally when I tried to get a time that was more compatible with work I would be told “it’s ok, we’ll give you a doctor’s note”, but as an “autónomo”, that charges hourly, that just wasn’t suitable for me. If you’re working for salary at a company, it would be OK as usually employers are sensitive to accommodating pregnant employees. The facilities were quite old in the case of the health center I visited, with some broken chairs in the waiting room and paint on the walls chipped away, but quite modern in the case of the hospital (Maternidad O’donnell).
Through the private system, in my case, everything was covered as well and I didn’t have any copays. Just keep in mind that there is a “periodo de carencia”, meaning there is a minimum period of time you have to be subscribed to the insurance before it will cover certain things, like pregnancy. Some private insurance companies might have copays, too, so be careful and check what is included in your policy if you are thinking of starting a family. I found an Ob-gyn doctor (Dr. Madueño) with a small clinic in my neighbourhood (Ginesmad). I had monthly check-ups at first and twice a month during the last trimester. He has a good ultrasound machine and does an ultrasound scan during each visit, so for me it was quite calming to be able to see the progress of my little one every month. I was able to schedule the visits late in the evening, they close at 8pm, and my waiting time was never longer than 10 minutes. Through the public health system the appointments are not as frequent, just once per trimester for the first two trimesters, and then once a month for the last one. Anyway, regardless of if you decide to go the public or private route, in both systems they explain the process really well during the initial appointment and give you a calendar of appointments you will have throughout the pregnancy, so don’t worry about being lost.
Some additional questions to consider:
- Where do you want to give birth? If it’s a public hospital, you can go through the public system and that way you will meet the staff that will most likely be present at the birth. Same for private. I’m very practical and wanted to give birth at the hospital nearest my home (Quirón San José). In fact, when I went into labor I went there walking!
- Do you want to take a preparation course? Both public and private hospitals offer courses, but private courses are going to have more work-compatible schedules, maybe even Saturday mornings.
- How well do you speak Spanish? The whole process was definitely a challenge to my level. Luckily my husband is Spanish and could understand 100%, but for appointments where I went alone, I found my private doctor to be much more patient and accommodating with the language. If you’re living in a big city or in a place where there is a big expat community, maybe you can even find a doctor who speaks English.
So, in a nutshell, for me the private system ended up being the one that fit better with my lifestyle. That being said, I was lucky to have a pregnancy without complications, so the choice was easier. In speaking with friends who have had complications, it seems that in that case it’s better to go through the public system as the diagnostic equipment is more advanced and there are more qualified specialists available. In any case, keep in mind that you cannot make a bad choice as both systems offer good care, and the differences I found were just in superficial thing like newness of facilities, and comfort things such as the ability to have a more flexible schedule.
Amber Lattimer is the co-founder and Director of the A-Academy.
Photos: Oviedo, Asturias. Wating room of Ginesmad Hospital.