Stay safe and healthy in Portugal with your regular habits. Know more about the Portuguese healthcare system for when you feel ill.
As with all European nations, healthcare services in Portugal are accessible for foreigners through subsidized state healthcare. People can access both public and private healthcare services – and you’ll be glad to know that the standard of healthcare in Portugal is one of the best in Europe.
Types of Healthcare Services in Portugal
The first thing you should know is that the Portuguese healthcare system operates on three levels. The first level is the National Health Service (the NHS is called the Servico Nacional de Saude or SNS). This is the public, state-funded healthcare system. The other level is private health insurance in Portugal. The third level is social health insurance that is generated around industries for the public sector such as police, army, government employees in departments.
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Public Health Services
The SNS (or the National Health Service) is free to all residents in Portugal. However, in recent years, certain medical treatments and procedures have seen charges added. These include things such as doctor visits, pregnancy care, dental care and dental hygiene, and specialist physician treatments.
While the Portuguese government charges for certain healthcare services, you’ll be relieved to know that the costs are nominal charges. People are asked to contribute a small payment towards certain treatments that they undergo, however, those costs are removed should the person be considered in a vulnerable and low-earning group of the population.
Private Health Insurance Types
For those that opt for voluntary medical insurance, these are divided into two groups: employer and employee contribution schemes and those for private health insurance to supplement the public healthcare system.
It is fairly straightforward to apply for Portuguese healthcare services. People will need to apply for a Portuguese Social Security number. Usually, an employer will assist with this. Once a person is registered with the Portuguese Social Security (called the NIF), they will be able to register for the SNS at a health centre. You can also register via the SNS’s online healthcare portal.
Private healthcare in Portugal is of a very high standard. You’ll find that most doctors and specialists actually work in both the public and private healthcare systems. The benefit of private healthcare insurance is that when you make an appointment with a doctor, your waiting time for an appointment is greatly reduced and the availability of treatment and other services is far greater from the outset.
Medicines in Portugal
Pharmacies in Portugal (called farmacia) are readily available. The SNS also operates pharmacies called community pharmacies. Privately-owned pharmacies are more common.
Emergency Medical Care in Portugal
If you are involved in an emergency medical situation, Portugal has one of the best ER services. Regardless of your status of residency, it is only once you as a patient have been stabilized that a patient will be required to show proof of Portuguese residence and healthcare access cards.