The Ultimate Guide on Portugal’s Healthcare System

Whether your plan is to retire or to raise a family elsewhere, we understand that the healthcare system of a country might be a top consideration when you are deciding on the next place you call home.

Here, we will give a detailed summary of the health care system in Portugal.

Portugal has strong public and private health care systems. Portugal’s healthcare system was ranked as the 12th on the 2019 World Health Report by The World Health Organization (WHO). Medical staff are qualified and the hospitals are equipped with the latest technology. Compared to other European countries, life expectancy in Portugal is higher.

Portugal has a mixed healthcare system, with both public and private services. Hospitals, medical centres, and other institutions are usually either public or private—not both. Public healthcare is managed by Serviço Nacional de Saúde(SNS), the Portuguese national healthcare system.

Public Healthcare System

Who Can Benefit From The Portuguese Healthcare System In Portugal?

Everyone who is a legal resident of Portugal can have access to healthcare and benefit from the national health system in Portugal.

This means that expats can also benefit from the Portuguese healthcare services if they obtain legal residency.

Registering For The Public Healthcare System In Portugal

you must first registered with the local healthcare centre, centro de saúde with your residence card (título de residência). After registering with the health center, you will be given your healthcare number, Número de Utente. You will need to show this number whenever accessing public healthcare services.

In Portugal, the health services of public hospitals include:

  • Emergency treatment;
  • Outpatient treatment;
  • Nursing;
  • Psychiatric care;
  • Care for people with fatal diseases;
  • Post-operative care;
  • Maternity care.

Costs In The Public Healthcare System

Public healthcare in Portugal is mainly free for all citizens and legal residents. In some instances, such as visiting emergency rooms or family doctors, having a medical emergency, doctor’s appointments, and diagnostics exams, there may be some fees to be paid. It differs between €5-20. For exams, the fee will not be more than €40. On the other hand, dental care and cosmetic surgery in Portugal are excluded from the state’s help.

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Private Healthcare System

Private healthcare is more expensive than public healthcare in Portugal. An average GP’s consultation fee is around €40-60. However, there are some advantages to private healthcare over public healthcare. To begin with, there are shorter waiting lists in private healthcare, and you can access more services in private hospitals than in public ones. Furthermore, you are more likely to encounter staff who speak English.

Private Healthcare Insurance

Private insurance is common among expats. It is also increasingly chosen by locals in Portugal, mainly due to shorter wait times.

There are various private health insurance companies/ plans in Portugal for you to choose the one that best meets your needs. While hospitalization and surgery are the most common perks of private insurance, you can add the following services and other special treatments to your insurance:

  • Ambulatory services
  • appointments with doctors/specialists,
  • exams and tests,
  • physical therapy
  • Childbirth
  • Dentistry
  • Ophthalmology
  • Prosthetics

Other Important Information About Private Insurance In Portugal:

It is possible to add your other family members to the same insurance plan.

Most health insurance plans charge you a fixed amount. However, if you exceed the specified claim amount, you may need to pay more money in addition to the fixed amount.

Until the insurance is activated, you may need to wait for around 60 – 90 days.

You can apply for private health insurance with your bank or other insurance company in Portugal.

The average cost of private health insurance in Portugal is €600 a year per person, and if you choose a more comprehensive one, it may cost you around €1500.

Other Info

Emergency Situations

In Portugal, if you have an emergency, you will be treated. It doesn’t matter if you are a resident or if you have any insurance. However, for the covering of costs, you should later show proof of residency or health insurance.

In Portugal, the primary emergency number is 112. This number is directed to the ambulance, police, and fire services.

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Healthcare Service For Women In Portugal

In Portugal, both public and private services are available for women’s healthcare. Women can receive prenatal care in hospitals. Please note that the prenatal classes in hospitals are not always subsidized via public health insurance.

You can access gynaecologists through your GP. Gynaecologists are available in health centres and clinics in Portugal.

Healthcare Service For Children In Portugal

Children have free access to healthcare in Portugal. From birth, they have regular checks, and records of their progress. They have access to services such as vaccination, examinations, and nutritional healthcare in Portugal.

Is It Easy To Contact Medical Professionals As An Expat?

Portuguese healthcare is very advanced in terms of language. Almost all doctors in both the public and private sectors speak English, so as an expat, you can comfortably rely on Portuguese healthcare in terms of communication.

Healthcare For Portugal Golden Visa Applicants

If you are a Golden Visa holder in Portugal, you do not automatically get healthcare. If you do not decide on living in Portugal full time, then you are required to get private healthcare insurance that covers your healthcare in Portugal.

If you decide to live in Portugal for more than half the year and become a full-time resident, then you may be covered by the public healthcare system.

Learn more about the Portuguese Golden Visa and how you can get your Portugal residency and citizenship!

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