Portugal Healthcare Information and Options for Expats
The beautiful Southwestern European country of Portugal has become a natural choice for expats looking for better opportunities and an improved lifestyle beyond their country’s land. Besides the Mediterranean climate and the idyllic coastlines, Portugal offers promising work opportunities to its residents, as well as its expat population. Portugal is indeed an ideal destination for those looking to retire and spend the rest of their lives in a peaceful and quiet haven. However, as an expat, access to basic healthcare facilities should be your primary concern.
So, if you have chosen Portugal as your expat destination, you can rest assured about the healthcare facilities in the country. As an expat, you will have access to subsidized healthcare facilities too. However, it will largely depend on your resident status in the country, which means subsidized healthcare is available only to legal residents of Portugal including both working and non-working residents (under certain conditions).
Visitors on a short-term visit to Portugal will require purchasing private health insurance to cover themselves during their stay. This will help them access health services and other emergency treatment services as and when required. However, visitors from countries that fall under the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) can avail healthcare facilities in Portugal by using their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
Overview of Healthcare in Portugal
The Portuguese healthcare system is one of the best in the world. It incorporates both private, as well as public healthcare services. The public healthcare system is also known as the NHS or National Health Services and it is managed by the Portuguese Ministry of Health and funded through general taxation. Apart from NHS, a voluntary private health insurance scheme along with a special social health insurance scheme (health subsystem) used by people from certain professions is also present.
Though the NHS is available free of cost to all Portuguese residents, including expats, charges have been applicable for several services in recent years. The NHS covers several primary healthcare facilities including maternity services, community healthcare, certain dental services and some secondary care services delivered by hospitals and similar other units.
How the Portuguese Healthcare System Works for Expats
Expats moving to Portugal should familiarize themselves with the country’s health care system and the way it operates. They have access to both public, as well as private healthcare options. Private healthcare, though expensive, has become popular among the expat population, with around 10-20% of them using private services in Portugal. This is because expats can bypass long queues and waiting lists associated with the public healthcare system. Apart from this, some services such as eye care and dental services, which have limited coverage through the NHS are well covered under private healthcare services.
Necessary Insurance Paperwork for Expats
Portugal provides free and subsidized healthcare facilities for all Portuguese residents including the expats. To be eligible for the subsidized healthcare plan, expats need to get themselves registered with the Instituto da Solidariedade in Portugal. As soon as they arrive in the country and begin working, expats should get themselves registered with the institute to obtain social security. After registration, they will be issued a número de contribuinte — a social security number. After receiving the ID number and residence permit, they will have to head to their nearest healthcare center to receive a user’s healthcare card, which in turn will allow them access to the state’s medical system.
Best Private International Medical Insurance for Expats in Portugal
Expats who do not qualify for the public healthcare system in Portugal can opt for a private health insurance plan. In recent years, private healthcare has become more popular among the expat population. This is because private healthcare offers better facilities, quicker access to quality healthcare, shorter waiting times, and a wider choice as compared to the public healthcare system, which is plagued by a shortage of funds, long waiting lists, etc. Since, most private health insurance companies in Portugal have a fairly good network with top-notch hospitals and reputed doctors, expats who avail their services have access to high-quality healthcare services in most cities of the country.
In Portugal, you can opt for an appropriate private healthcare plan both from international, as well as domestic private insurance companies. However, quotes may vary from company to company depending on the level of coverage offered by them. Some of the reputed providers of private healthcare insurance in Portugal, include Cigna, Allianz Care, and more. It is recommended that you compare various international health insurance policies online to get the most appropriate deal.
Travelers do not enjoy the benefits of state-funded healthcare program like the Portuguese citizens. It is therefore important for visitors to purchase a travel healthcare insurance plan before their travel date. Travelers spending short periods in Portugal (a month) should buy a short-term health insurance policy if they aren’t covered by international health policy. In case their stay extends up to six months or a year, they should avail travel or international health policy, which would cover them in their home country, as well as in countries they are traveling to. As an expat, choosing an international health insurance plan is a prudent decision as it helps to avail several benefits apart from those offered by the local ones.