Andorra’s healthcare system is one of the major contributors to the principality’s high standard of living. It is home to some of the best hospital facilities in the whole of Europe.
Despite its small size, Andorra’s sophisticated healthcare system is at par with what most major developed countries offer. Combine that with fresh mountain air and low-stress rates, and it starts to make sense why Andorrans have among the highest life expectancy in the world.
In this article, we’ll take a look at everything that makes Andorra’s healthcare system so dependable and briefly discuss how it works. Here’s everything you need to know.
Caixa Andorrana de Seguretat Social (CASS)
The Andorran healthcare system is funded by CASS (Caixa Andorrana De Seguretat Social) — the social security system of Andorra. This system covers 92% of the Andorran population, while the rest has private insurance.
All companies in Andorra are obliged to register their employees with CASS. Pensioners can also be registered in the CASS system and self-employed people/entrepreneurs can join it by making a voluntary contribution based on their income level.
- CASS contributions deduct 6-7% of the employee’s salary and 15% from the employer.
- Unemployed residents can be insured in CASS for a flat fee of €200-300 per month.
- CASS covers 90% for hospital stay expenses and 75% for medicine.
Previously when you visited a doctor in Andorra, you’d be issued a receipt and a stamped voucher. This receipt and other documents would need to be taken to a local CASS office, where you were then reimbursed for the expenses via bank transfer. Thankfully, this system is now automated with a swipe of your CASS card at the doctor’s reception.
If you are hired by an Andorran company, you will automatically be covered by CASS.
While Andorra does not have universal healthcare, the coverage carries benefits in countries in the EU. CASS coverage extends to neighboring France, Spain, and even Portugal under a special agreement.
Similar to how Andorran citizens can reside and take up employment in these countries, they can also receive free healthcare and CASS will reimburse them for their medical bills.
Servei Andorrà d’Atenció Sanitària (SAAS)
Servei Andorrà d’Atenció Sanitària, known as SAAS, is the Andorran National Health Service. SAAS oversees and manages all the public health care facilities in Andorra and was established in December 1986.
SAAS works to coordinate the private, public, and voluntary sectors and bring them together.
Guaranteed Medical Management Services
Public health insurance is guaranteed for all employed residents and linked to social contributions, which are among the lowest in Europe. The amount you pay depends on your income level, but the average is 7% on the employee end and 15% on the employer end.
Andorran healthcare is available to residents who don’t earn a salary through the public welfare system. Andorran residents who are self-employed or entrepreneurs can pay into the social security system. This entitles them to the full social security benefits. Certain services and medicine have to be paid for directly.
Nostra Senyora de Meritxell Hospital
Nostra Senyora de Meritxell Hospital is the public hospital of Andorra. The hospital was named after the patron saint of Andorra and is located in Escaldes-Engordany, 1.7km (1 mile) away from the capital Andorra la Vella.
The hospital facilities are modern because it was built in 1993. It spans over 5,000 square meters (53,000 feet). The hospital has a 192 single bed capacity on 12 levels and car parking for 270 cars. The highest levels have an S-linear block and all beds have bathrooms.
All Andorran residents enrolled in the social security system have free access to this hospital. If the patients require special treatment not available in Andorra, they can be sent by helicopter to a hospital in Barcelona.
Pharmacies in Andorra
Andorra has a wide network of pharmacies and one of the highest ratios of pharmacy-per-capita in Europe. You’ll always be within walking distance of a pharmacy in Andorra, even if you reside in a village. The pharmacies are licensed by the government and require special permits by the Ministry of Health to operate.
Emergency care is available on an immediate basis to all residents, including those who are not insured by CASS but require emergency treatment. The phone line is “116” and is available on a 24/7 basis.
If an Andorran resident requires a very specialized form of care that is not available in Andorra, they will be airlifted to Barcelona or Toulouse via helicopter.
The CASS system will cover you for visits to the dentist such as regular checkups. However, more demanding treatments such as crowns and root canals may have to be paid out of pocket. There are private dental clinics in every small town in Andorra.
Private health insurance in Andorra is optional. While the public healthcare system is excellent and covers 92% of the population, more than 25% of Andorrans have private health insurance on top of their public health insurance. It is also possible to pay out of pocket in private clinics.
Private doctors can also be hired to perform surgeries and diagnostic treatments in the hospital on an emergency basis.
Healthcare in Andorra: Among the Best in the World
The Principality of Andorra consistently ranks high in a variety of global healthcare rankings. A recent report published by the Lancet medicine magazine conducted a survey wherein data from 195 countries was collected between 1990 and 2015. On evaluating this data every five years, it was observed that Andorra led the world ranking in every evaluation with a Healthcare Access and Quality Index (HAQ score) of 95/100.
Equipped with a strong social security system that covers up to 100% of your medical expenses, the Principality of Andorra outperforms most developed European countries when it comes to healthcare. Two more reasons why many expats choose Andorra are:
No Language Barrier
Most doctors in Andorra speak English, so there is no language barrier when you visit a doctor. While Catalan is the official language of the country, many doctors can also converse in Spanish and French. As a resident, you can choose the main doctor who you register with CASS. You can also hire doctors from France and Spain who are registered as practitioners in CASS.
The public clinics are staffed with experienced nurses and offer first aid, pre- and postal-natal care, nursing, rehabilitation, immunization, and other services. The working days are Monday to Friday and some are open on weekends.
High Life Expectancy
Andorra has one of the highest life expectancies in Europe. The Andorran Ministry of Health released a report in 2019 that stated the average life expectancy in Andorra was 81 years for men and 82 years for women – some of the highest in the world. The fresh mountain air on the Pyrenees range is ideal for residents who suffer from respiratory and rheumatic diseases, as the high altitude can reduce symptoms.
Residents of Andorra enjoy crystal clean fresh air. The government bans heavy industry which reduces pollution. There is not one large industrial factory on the entire territory of Andorra. Great news for retirees who want to preserve their health in their late years.