Receiving quality and fast healthcare is on everyone’s mind these days. The coronavirus (covid-19) still affecting more people. While Spain is one of the countries with the most restrictive policies in order to “flatten the curve”, these restrictions have not slowed the velocity of the spread.
The development of the current public health-crisis has created uncertainty among the population when scheduling other treatments at the national healthcare service (NHS). As a direct effect of the pandemic, the treatment centers have been obliged to channel more personnel from other areas to COVID-19 treatment.
Historic Perspective: Balearic Islands vs Other Spanish Communities #
Numbers put the current issue into perspective. The Balearic Islands have shorter waiting periods for services because of a more effective public health care system. The average rate per 1.000 habitants in the year ending 2019 was 10.61 people placed on a waiting list. This is lower than the national average of 15.53. Also, the probability of a patient being on a waiting list for more than 60 days is only 5.3% compared to the national average of 19.9%.
However, in certain regions - Madrid, Galicia, and La Rioja, the average waiting time was 79 days for the year of 2019. All data considered, the Baleares have been more effective in treating their patients faster than the average of other communities in Spain.
Current Waiting Periods and Development Post Covid-19 #
The current (SARS-CoV-2) health crisis has destabilized the economy. The public healthcare system in Spain is managing the massive demand for hospital care by prioritizing services from other parts of the healthcare system. After reviewing the development of the last 12 months, the average waiting period for the first consultancy was 34.27 days which is better than the average for the month ending September 30th was 64.72.
To put it another way, there was an increase of inefficiency of 88% from the year before (pre-COVID). Even though this might seem like a high increase, the delays are worse for residents awaiting surgical treatments. The average number of days may seem high unless you compare to the national average (2019) at 72.49 days to 149 days at the end of September 2020. This translates to a bit over a 100% increase in days waiting for the residents.
How has the development affected the number of patients on waiting lists? #
Having reviewed the statistics for both the first consultancy and for surgical treatments, the impacts due to rising COVID infection rates dramatically affect the number of days on the waiting list for the residents living on the Balearic Islands. Not only have the number of days increased, the amount of people on waiting lists for more than 60 days has also increased dramatically.
In October 2019, the amount of people on the waiting list for a first consultancy was 6.101. Since then, the number has steadily increased to 16.067 or by 164%. For surgical treatments in October 2019 the number of patients on the waiting list was 563 where also this number has increased immensely to an astonishing level where at the end of September 2020 there was 4.735, or, a percentage increase of 763%.
Then what has changed in the last twelve months? #
Given the high infection rates due to COVID and the stress to healthcare management, the system will be under great strain for the foreseeable future. While the Spanish health care system has been considered above average to other countries, we are moving towards lower levels of certainty that a resident can get quick and reliable treatment if needed. When considering what we have analyzed thus far, it would not be unusual to see waiting 400 or 500 days for at surgical treatment. Some surgical treatments, such as neurosurgery, had an average waiting period of 242 days in the end of September 2020.
As a resident with the right to Spanish national health care, many become frustrated at the delays. One thing is to have to deal with the fear of contracting the novel coronavirus and quite another if you would need public health care for almost anything else then you are asked to please wait twice as long than you did just one year ago. It is still important to note that even if the levels of waiting periods are alarming, people living on the islands should be aware that public health care isn't what it was pre-Covid levels. One would still received prioritized treatment if the case is severe or extremely urgent.
However, if the second wave hits harder than what we have already experienced, it will be extremely difficult to cope with both COVID-19 and other cases. The current occupation of covid-19 cases in the intensive care unit at hospitals on the Balearic Islands is 17,48%, well below the national average of roughly 30%. For the remainder of hospital beds, only 7,92% are occupied by COVID-19 cases against 16,4% national average. So even if the numbers are better than the national average in both cases, it is obvious that the prioritization has created a bottleneck effect and, even the smallest increase in the waiting periods, could double in days.
How to make sure you get treatment fast if you need it #
The current health crises have helped residents in Spain become aware of private health care options that can be obtained for relatively modest cost, depending on the desired coverage. With private health care options, you don't have to stand in line and be prioritized. You have the possibility to freely choose among 25.000+ professionals in all Spain, depending on the provider. That means that some situations where you were forced to wait 149 days with the national healthcare system, services can be obtained in matter of days or a couple of weeks. These are the 10 biggest health insurance providers in Spain and their latest rating according to the Spanish consumer organization OCU.
In Conclusion #
A relatively unknown benefit of carrying private health coverage offers people the option to deduct the health Insurance costs on their taxes whether through their employer or self-employment/autonomo filing. This offers an attractive way to secure your family and yourself.
The private health insurance coverages are a way to secure your chances of rapid treatment and consultancy, even when times are crazy at the national healthcare services on the Balearic Islands.
In case you have any questions regarding the above written article or if you wish to hear more about how to obtain a better coverage for you and your family please don't hesitate to contact:
Whatsapp/cell: +34 639268780
Email: [email protected]
By Pasquale Specchio
9 November, 2020