Is Humira available through the spanish health system?

Hi everyone. I am an Irish guy, 31, and have been on Humira for almost a year now. I have been working in London for 5 years now and about 2 years ago I finally got referred to a rheumatologist and got diagnosed with AS. A year later, after lots of pain and frustration I was put on Humira, which has had an amazing effect on the quality of my life. I had been suffering since I was 21 and this drug has given me back my life!! So much so that I forget I even have the condition sometimes :-) But my situation is changing, I am looking at moving to Spain to become an English language teacher but obviously being on Humira is a huge factor in whether I make the move or not. And in the UK I don't have to pay for it which is a huge benefit.

Has anyone been in the same situation or know someone who has?

If someone is now living in Spain and is receiving Humira, how is it done? and does it cost you anything to get it?

Any guidance and help is much appreciated

Thanks

Chris

17 Replies

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  • Hiya Chris. I lived in Spain for 11 years, returning to the UK in 2012. The following I've c&p'd from a reply I posted earlier in the year from another member asking on behalf a friend considering moving within the EU & asking a similar question. Hope it helps but if there's something I've not covered or you have any more specific questions I'll try to answer if I can. This website may be a useful starting point healthcareinspain.eu.

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    I knew all the in's & out's when living in Spain but it may have changed since then & I don't now where you're planning to live so rather than give duff info starting by reading this may help you if you haven't read it already! nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcar... (including the drop boxes at the bottom of the text - Health services & costs/Making healthcare arrangements in advance/Living &/or working in Spain).

    Medical Tourists have caused all sorts of problems & the UK Government has been caught out in many ways with so called reciprocal agreements not being adhered to. I know Spain got in an awful knot with the UK (UK not paying Spain that is, though Spain were partially to blame in being tardy with claiming monies due) with what was due not being paid so if you can check for the country you're considering living in & their specific stipulations/arrangements you should find that more reliable. One thing to consider if you intend working & paying into the adopted country's system is some, such as Spain, it's necessary to pay a percentage of the cost of the drugs prescribed, there's no free healthcare any more (excepting pregnant women & children I think), not even those retired or on a pension. In certain circumstances some prescription costs are capped but not all by any means & it can depend very much on how much is earnt & declared & your status. Percentages are different depending on circumstances but it could work out expensive with meds such as Enbrel & Humira. There may be exceptions or subsidies for more expensive & necessary meds, I wasn't on biologics only MTX, HCQ & the normal steroids, NSAIDs, pain relief etc so don't quote me! I'm not even sure of the situation re residency which while we lived there was necessary to be employed legally in Spain. The year before we left there was talk of only nationals being issued with & carrying the Residencia ID Card but there must be some other form of legality to replace it for those wishing to work & be considered for national heathcare. Whilst there we retained British Citizenship but were granted Residencia for employment & tax reasons, both paid in Spain & tax exempt for the UK having retained property here & income from those.

    Another option of course is private medical insurance, which we had to take out whilst my h found paid work, but again cost could be prohibitive depending on who it's taken out with & whether or not existing health conditions are covered. This you'd have to check as neither of us had any of note when we took ours out so it was very reasonable but now I dread to think of the restrictions! Again, things may have changed & allowances made or put in place since we lived there so don't quote me if it is Spain you're considering to move to!

    Obviously I can't speak for any other EU member country but I & my immediate family can't praise the Spanish healthcare system enough, from GP's & Practice Nurses right through to hospital staff & Surgeons. Patients are encouraged to be proactive & the needs of the patient overrides the cost of drugs. Whatever is considered necessary & best for your particular needs is prescribed without consideration of cost. But, again, this could be prohibitive with yours. I don't know if there are any special considerations for the more expensive meds. Again this link is relative to Spain but you may find a Gov website relating to where you're considering planning to live gov.uk/guidance/healthcare-... Maybe if anyone else is living in the country of choice sees this they'll be able to give personal information. One thing I would do though is ensure everthing is in place re healthcare before you make the final decision on planning to move.

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  • Thank you so much, nomoreheels (great name by the way). There are some great links there which i am going to digest thoroughly. With this condition, ill have to be 100% sure I can be treated without any gaps so will ensure there is a plan in place before I make the decision to move

    Where did you live in Spain?

  • You're welcome. Can't stress how important it is you do your homework for the region you intend relocating to, particularly needing such expensive meds & it being a co-payment system though as I say I don't know if there's any special consideration for biologics.

    We lived about 10km from Alicante, inland in the foothills of the Cabeçó d'Or mountain.

    Which area are you looking to relocate to?

  • That sounds nice. I am looking to move to Valencia or Madrid but havent decided on which yet

  • It would just be awesome if there was someone in the exact same position or 6 months ahead of me :-)

  • Madrid has extremes in temp, too hot in summer & too cold in winter for me but a beautiful city nonetheless. Valencia we know better as we stayed regularly, in the city though not in the mountains, again too cold in winter.

    Fallas in March is just amazing, very noisy though! We have friends who lived in the city for about 25 years & now live half an hour's drive inland. We used to joke we needed a holiday to recover from a weekend with them, the city buzzes! Oddly enough he used to be an English teacher in a private school, he's English & his wife who's Spanish gives private English lessons to small groups at home.

    Where we lived was in the the Province of Alicante which is in the Valencian Community.

  • Best thing to do is to ask the Spanish embassy/consulate. They will be able to tell you what you need to do to be able to access healthcare, as well as what the costs are likely to be. Be aware that reciprocal healthcare arrangements are almost always only for emergency treatment, not for ongoing care. You might also want to check out whether you can work in spain but still be classed as a british resident (some occupations like the armed forces allow you to do this) and therefore still get NHS treatment, though there would be the issue of how to get the meds delivered. Another option for making enquiries is the NHS itself (the Admin people, not clinicians). Ideally, carrying full medical/healthcare insurance would be best, but with a preexisting condition its probably going to be a huge cost.

    I've found on several occasions that either the foreign office or the relevant embassy or consulate has been incredibly useful for sorting out medical stuff in other countries, though it can take a bit of persistence to actually speak to the right person. Also, if you have made contact with them, then you have a contact point for finding out what to do if anything goes wrong when you do move.

    You are definitely right to be trying to find out your options for ongoing medical treatment now, before you make the decision to go.

  • Hi Earthwitch, that is some really good advice which ill follow up on. Thanks so much

  • At the embassy/consulate, who should I ask the question to?

  • I'd just say I wanted information about healthcare and ask to be put through to someone who can help.

  • HI there! Did you ever find out if the Spanish healthcare could provide Humira? I have to start a treatment and the price being 1127euros it would be great if this could be taking care of! thanks!!

  • Is humira As good as people say..next week I see my nurse and because of a cough I have had since last April .I think they will take me off methetrexate. I haven.t taken it over Christmas .but Don. T know much about others to compere but they said they will change it next time .Any info.

  • All I can say is that Humira has done wonders for me. Prior to it I was on Naproxin and Ibuprofen but that only ever gave me temporary relief. Humira has been incredible for me. I can run again, play sports and generally move around with no pain! Good luck with it :)

  • Hi

    I lived in Madrid for 2 years and was able to continue with my treatment for RA. I'm on Enbrel and they gave the medication to me very readily. I thought the Spanish healthcare system was excellent and they looked after me really well. I did take a letter with me from my Rheumy which detailed my diagnosis and situation at the time. Although I can speak Spanish most of the doctors had pretty good English and seemed to want to practice.

    I have been back from Madrid for 5 years now. When I arrived I had a job in place and they helped me to sort out my social security number (this is like national insurance) and NIE which is your essential ID that you need to work and live there. I'm not sure if this has changed but employers will help with this.

    Hope this has helped and good luck.

  • Hi Janeye, that is very encouraging indeed. My brother is on Enbrel and it has done wonders for him as Humira has done for me. Thank you for your reply but i just have a couple of questions. When you arrived in Madrid had you already been on Enbrel in the UK?

    Once you began to receive it in the Spanish health system, how long did it take to start receiving the drug and also did it cost you anything extra (apart from your social security contributions). Where did you go to show your referral letter to?

    Many thanks

    Chris

  • Hi Chris

    I had been on Enbrel in whilst in the Uk. I just took my letter and a few other notes I had to the doctor that I resisters with and she told me that there was no problem for me to get Enbrel there and referred me to the hospital for blood tests and to collect the meds. It was so straight forward, I was very pleasantly surprised.

    I didn't have to pay anything extra just the social security contributions.

    Good luck!!

  • Oh that is awesome, thank you so much

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