portugal healthcare

Did you know that Portugal ranks 12th in healthcare services according to the globally conducted World Population Review? It’s good to know about Portugal healthcare system if you wish to move to Portugal. Even if you don’t want to move there completely, you may need to consult healthcare services when you’re in Portugal.

You can be assured that Portugal provides developed public and private healthcare services. The equipment in Portuguese hospitals is of the latest technology. 

For a detailed guide about Portugal health system, keep reading the rest of this article.


Healthcare System in Portugal: Who Can Benefit?

In Portugal, legal residents have access to national healthcare services.

Citizens of the EU, EEA, and Switzerland can benefit from the Portuguese healthcare system. To benefit from this, you need to bring your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) with you.

Non-residents and non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, on the other hand, need to get private health insurance. 

Public Healthcare System in Portugal

The national health service Portugal is known as SNS (Serviço Nacional de Saúde). It’s financed publicly. All legal residents and citizens of Portugal can benefit from this system. Note that it doesn’t cover dental care and cosmetic surgery. Individuals under 18 and over 65 can benefit from the national health system for free. The remaining group of residents pays only a little amount for certain services like seeing a general practitioner. 

In Portugal, primary care is supplied in health centers first. Each individual has a family doctor appointed for themselves. After the doctor sees you, he/she can direct you to a specialist if it’s necessary. Note that there are long waiting lists to see a specialist in public hospitals. It may take months or even a year. For more details about waiting times, it’s advisable to check the online website of SNS. You can also form appointments online on this website. However, you must remember that not all centers provide such a service.

Usually, public hospitals in Portugal cover emergency treatment, nursing, psychiatric, maternity, post-operative care, and outpatient treatment. 

What about healthcare in Portugal for expats? If you have a job in Portugal, your employer needs to get a social security number for you. Otherwise, you need to register your social security by yourself as self-employed. If you belong to none of these groups as an expat, for instance as a temporary resident, you’ll need to have private medical insurance.

Private Healthcare System in Portugal

Private healthcare services provide fewer waiting periods to see a doctor compared to public healthcare. Also, the number of English-speaking staff in private hospitals is higher than it’s in public hospitals. As expected, it’s also more expensive than public healthcare systems. It’s also possible to choose a specialist in a private health center. You can then reach the center/hospital to make an appointment by purchase private health insurance.

Private health insurance Portugal provides you the right to select a specific plan among many options. What’s more, you can even make it personalized by including additional services in your plan. Besides being popular among expats, private Portugal medical insurance is becoming popular among locals as well. Inclusion of family members in the same plan is also possible. On average, private insurance costs around €400 a year. If you extend the insurance with additional treatments, the amount can reach up to €1000. 


Emergency Services in Portugal

Emergency treatment is available for all individuals in Portugal, regardless of their residency or insurance status. However, you’ll later indicate proof of insurance or residency for coverage of costs. 

The emergency number in Portugal is 112. You can reach the ambulance, fire services, and police from the same number.


Mental Health Services in Portugal

Mental healthcare in Portugal is available both in public and private healthcare facilities. You first need to counsel your GP first. Your GP then guides you accordingly. Not all mental healthcare services are available through SNS though. At this step, private insurance would work well. 


Pharmacies in Portugal

Pharmacies are easy to find in malls and in city centers in Portugal. They provide both prescribed and non-prescribed medications. 

Health insurance Portugal covers a certain percentage of the cost of your medication. You then pay the remaining amount. 

On weekdays, pharmacies are open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Usually, they have a lunch break between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. You can also find on-duty pharmacies that are open 24/7. 



Is healthcare for foreigners free in Portugal?

Portugal healthcare for foreigners is not free unless they’re legal residents, workers, or citizens in Portugal. Yet, EU citizens can benefit from the national healthcare services with their EHIC.

Can Portugal Golden Visa applicants benefit from the SNS?

The Healthcare system in Portugal doesn’t provide direct access to public healthcare for Golen Visa applicants. They may have access to this right if they stay in the country for more than half the year. 

Do I need to know Portuguese to benefit from Portugal health system?

Medical staff in most public and private healthcare facilities know English. So, Portugal healthcare for tourists is available even if you don’t speak Portuguese.


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