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Spanish Social Security card

Doctor with stethoscope
As in the UK, most Spaniards are covered for health treatment by the public health system but many take out private insurance, using the state health services for emergency purposes only as there are waiting lists for operations in the state services though these are not as long as in the UK. 
The Spanish health system combines both public and private healthcare and within each separate state free or low cost health care is given to those who contribute to the Spanish Seguridad Social (social security).  Everyone who lives and works in Spain is required to have a Social Security number for entitlement to government pensions, sickness, unemployment and healthcare and if you move to Spain permanently, you need to apply for an official medical card at your local Seguridad Social (Spanish Social Security - SS) office.
You can obtain the social security card from any SS office with your original passport and a copy and you will need to fill out a form and show some ID and proof of residence.  To locate your nearest social security office contact the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social.  You will need your social security card to be seen in the Ambulatorio or consultorio (the state-operated health centres found in many Spanish towns) but getting the paperwork can be a lengthy process so until it is completed, have your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), which entitles you to medical treatment necessary during a trip due to illness or accident, to hand.  

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