Healthcare in Portugal, How it Works and What to Expect

Olá, Amigos! (Hello, friends!) Here, you will be able to learn everything you need to know about healthcare in Portugal.

Today, we will be writing about what to do and where to go for the best care and what the public system is like.

Public and private healthcare in Portugal

If you are planning to relocate to Portugal, visit the country or stay for extended periods, here is what you need to know about healthcare in Portugal.

Healthcare in Portugal is provided with a mix of public and private providers. The National Health Service (“Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS)”) provides hospital and local health centre services. The National Health Service of Portugal is available to citizens as well as to temporary and permanent residents.

In addition to this public service, there are some private health institutions and professionals available that offer a free service.

Is healthcare in Portugal reliable?

Portugal’s healthcare system is ranked 12th in the world by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and it has improved more in recent years although, waiting times for a doctor’s appointment can still be long.

Health services and costs

Public healthcare in Portugal is generally free of charge for patients who are Portuguese citizens and temporary or permanent residents in Portugal. Depending on how you access the health service, you may need to co-pay for some certain services.

Registering for healthcare in Portugal

Registering for healthcare services in Portugal is free. You will need to register in the local health centre (“centro de saúde”) in your area of residence.

You will also need to go with the following documents;

  • Residence Permit or Residence Visa. Alternatively, you can also use a residence certificate showing you will be living in Portugal for more than 90 days.
  • International Passport
  • NIF (“Número de Identificação Fiscal”) , if you don’t have a Portuguese NIF (tax identification number) you can easily apply through a third-party supplier like GETNIFPORTUGAL
  • Proof of address; you can get this from the local parish’s town council (“junta de freguesia”) in your neighbourhood.

Can EU citizens use the National Health Service in Portugal?

The short answer is ‘Yes’. Nationals of one of the 28 European Union countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can use the National Health Service in Portugal. You must show your European Health Insurance Card (issued in your country of origin) and your passport or identification document in order to gain access to free or low-cost healthcare.

Can UK citizens use the National Health Service in Portugal?

Yes! As a UK citizen, you have access to the National Health Service in Portugal. You will need to show your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and your passport or identification document in order to gain access to state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free.

It will cover you for treatment needed to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return. Treatment also covers pre-existing medical conditions and maternity care.

Can US citizens use the National Health Service in Portugal?

The Portuguese Constitution states that all citizens, including foreigners, have the right to receive global healthcare. So, as a US citizen, you can access these healthcare services in Portugal.

You will need to register with a doctor before your first appointment. Alternatively, you can head to the emergency clinics as emergency care is free or you can go to any private hospital or clinic. All services are charged at full price and sometimes payment is requested at the point of access.

Can non-EU citizens use National Health Service in Portugal?

In Portugal, everyone can receive healthcare when necessary although, you will be charged the full price of the services provided to you if you don’t have health insurance cover.

healthcare Portugal

Private healthcare and insurance in Portugal

Private healthcare services and professionals are widely available in Portugal. Health insurance in Portugal usually covers most medical treatments except dental care, though some companies add this as an extra option in your policy.

Private healthcare is quite popular in Portugal as people prefer to avoid long waiting times and wish to have access to better facilities.

Is it necessary to have private insurance in Portugal?

In our opinion, it is advisable to get private insurance in Portugal especially if you are working although, many employers often pay for health insurance for their employees. One key reason we would recommend private insurance is simply because of convenience.

You will have shorter waiting times and more choice of hospitals available to you. The pricing is also good as it is a joint payment between you and the insurance company.

More further information on private health insurance in Portugal, read: Health Insurance in Portugal, What You Need to Know

Looking for the best health insurance in Portugal?

Get a free quote from our recommended providers:

CignaGlobal Health Insurance

Get access to a large global network with 24/7 multi-lingual support, in-house clinical treatments and more.
Get a quote: [ins-cigna]

Allianz Worldwide Care

Your medical expenses will all be covered when living abroad.
Get a quote: [ins-allianz]

Does travel insurance work in Portugal?

Yes, it does. Short-term visitors must have travel insurance before entering Portugal and this is usually obtained in their country of residence. We strongly advise you to have travel insurance to Portugal because healthcare services are usually very expensive without coverage also, it provides you with a financial safety net for any unforeseen medical emergencies.

Need more help on Travel Insurance? Have a look at: Do I Need Travel Insurance for Portugal? Find Out Here!

Hospitals in Portugal

To wrap up, if you need to find a hospital in a hurry, rest assured there are many to choose from. Portugal has over 200 hospitals (both public and private hospitals) spread throughout the country.

Here is a list of some hospitals in Portugal (please note that most of these sites are in Portuguese only):

If you need to find a doctor in Lisbon, click here.

Did we miss any important information about the healthcare system in Portugal? Do you have any experiences to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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