Monday, May 23, 2011


I was curious to read the findings of a survey as to how the people of Andalucía view their public and private health services. Four out of ten people with private insurance would still opt to go to a SAS public hospital if they had a serious illness because they prefer to be treated by doctors and nurses in the health service. In contrast three out of ten of those with insurance would opt for a private hospital or clinic.

The results come from a study carried out by the Asociación de Empresas Sanitarias de Prestación Asistencial de Andalucía (Aespaa) with a grant from the Andalucía ministry of health. It was carried out amongst 925 users of the Aliad private health service in 17 private centres in Málaga, Sevilla, Almería, Granada, Córdoba and Granada.

Of the patients questioned 45.9 per cent use the private health service more frequently than the public, 37.8 per cent opt for public whilst 14.6 per cent use both equally.

However if the patients were faced with a serious illness then 41.5 per cent would go to the public hospital, 31.1 per cent to the private whereas 22.1 per cent were undecided which they’d use.

Aespaa says the findings show that the majority of insured users of the health system would switch between one and the other. However when it came to choosing one over the other in cases of serious illness there was a higher confidence in the medical staff and facilities of the health service.

In contrast the comforts of the private hospitals and clinics were more highly valued than the often shared hospital rooms of the public sector. On this point alone 85.6 per cent would opt for private treatment both on the comfort factor and the speed with which they would be seen.

The most loyal users of the health service in Andalucía according to the survey are to be found in Cádiz province where less than 5 per cent would go private. This is at complete odds with other provinces where the figure is between 55 and 65 per cent. Bucking the trend in the opposite direction is Málaga province where 71 per cent would opt for private treatment over the SAS.

In 2006 I was both registered with the health service and had private insurance. When I was taken in to hospital in an emergency it was to the SAS hospital in La Línea. I was more than happy with the care and treatment I received from the health service specialists and nursing staff both during my stay and subsequent after care. However after five days in a shared room, during which time my mobile phone was stolen, I did consider using my insurance to switch to a private hospital although in the event I was released so it did not become an issue.

In 2003 my then partner was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She had private insurance but had both health service and private treatment. Her insurance company is part of a UK group but whilst it covered hospitals, doctors, cancer specialists, radiotherapy and chemotherapy there were some expensive oddities. For instance the insurance covered her chemo but not connecting it to her arm that she had to pay for herself. To connect her to the chemo could cost between 50 and 150 euros per session depending on what was required. In her case it was 75 euros, or at least 300 euros a month. If the SAS hospital prescribed her medicine it was with a prescription, hence the morphine came free. Yet during her last chemo session the clinic gave me a prescription for a series of injections the cost of which was 400 euros for just five days supply.

For my part I have cancelled my private insurance and opted to go with the health service which has served me well. One key reason is that if I have private insurance, whilst I could enjoy more comfortable care, I could equally be caught in the trap of having to find huge amounts of cash for drugs or say a chemo link at a time when I could least afford it. Now more and more health service hospitals are being built with single rooms for patients the comfort issue should also be less of a concern.

However I am gratified to see Andalucía’s health service doctors and nurses so highly rated by those with private insurance – they certainly have never let me down.

1 comment:

Ex-Pat Alfie said...

Before I retired I considered myself fortunate to have private medical insurance and never even considered using SAS.
Then came the night when I suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital in La Línea.
Luckily at no time did I have a private room and cosequently I had the good fortune to meet and get to know other patients and their families during my short stay. The care and attention I received could not have been better anywhere.
Needless to say my insurance cover was promptly rescinded, not that I would have used it.
Subsequently I have had the misfortune to require extensive
surgical intervention and ongoing medical care and the doctors at La Línea hospital have saved my life on two occaisions so far.
The important lesson I have learnt is that private rooms and shorter waiting times for non-urgent procedures are no substitute for the care and dedication given by the doctors, nurses and supporting
saff of SAS. Long may they prosper.
Ex-Pat Alfie.