The Department of Health and the British Embassy in Madrid have jointly produced the above video on how to use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Spain. There is much confusion over this, not helped by some hospitals making it difficult for patients (link) to use their card.
To be explicit, the EHIC can only be used in public hospitals, and so in Tenerife this means the Spanish state system El Mojón hospital in Chayofa above Los Cristianos, or the mixed private-state Hospitén Sur (usually called the Green Hospital) in Playa de las Américas. The EHIC cannot be used in the wholly private Quiron Costa Adeje in San Eugenio.
The EHIC entitles the card holder to any medically-necessary treatment that cannot wait until they return home, but it is important that you read THIS page to ensure that you understand the way in which even part-private hospitals deal with the EHIC versus insurance issue.
It is also important to understand that the card, which is issued by EU countries to all their citizens, is only for those who need medical attention during a temporary visit outside of their home countries. It is to be used either in an emergency, or if repeat or sudden treatment is required for a condition that cannot wait until the patient returns home. In other words, it is not for residents. Residents must either be registered with a state doctor, or buy private medical insurance, or see a private doctor.
Those resident in Spain should apply for a Spanish European health insurance card – a Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea. The exception is resident British pensioners: they have cover through an S1 issued by the UK which confirms that the UK will cover medical care provided by Spain: since their cover is provided by the UK, they need a UK EHIC. Applications for a pensioner’s UK EHIC must be made by post rather than online because they don’t live in the country which pays for their healthcare. There are links for both TSE and EHIC on my Links page HERE.