The card in detail
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the E111 form in January 2006 and many people think that if they flash this piece of plastic they will be covered for all their healthcare needs while in another EU country, and consequently they do not bother taking out any other medical or travel insurance. The fact is that the EHIC is NOT a substitute to medical or travel insurance. It entitles the visitor to emergency medical treatment in Spain on the same terms as the locals but medical repatriation, on-going medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature is not included.
In brief, the EHIC entitles a person to reduced-cost (sometimes free), medical treatment that becomes necessary while in a European Economic Area (EEA) country (or Switzerland). The EEA consists of the European Union (EU) countries, which includes Spain. People who are ordinarily resident in the UK are entitled to a UK-issued EHIC and this is normally valid for three to five years. It covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during a trip due to illness or accident, giving access to state-provided medical treatment only, on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in Spain.
Be aware that it might not cover the things you would expect to get on the NHS in the UK which means that an additional contribution may be needed. Having shown your European Health Card (EHC), you will be seen by a GP at a local health centre or in your home if you cannot make it to the centre. If you need to see a specialist or go into hospital, the GP will give you the relevant medical certificate or referral.