Healthcare for Foreigners in Portugal
Portugal’s healthcare system is quite extensive and inclusive. National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saude, SNS) is responsible for public healthcare in the country. The coverage of the healthcare system in Portugal includes every area except dentistry. Furthermore, Portuguese healthcare does not require a patient to be a Portuguese citizen. It provides service for residents, too. Therefore, a residence permit is enough to benefit from an excellent healthcare system.
The excellent system of healthcare in Portugal allows senior (over 65) and minor (under 18) citizens and residents to undergo examination and treatment free of charge. Citizens and residents between this range of age can receive care under the National Health Service for a minimal amount. However, some particular instances might be subject to extra costs, which are rare. Also, this service covers the fee of the medicine administered by the doctors performing the inspection or treatment.
Is Portuguese Healthcare Actually Good?
Portugal’s healthcare –and specifically its coverage of foreigners in Portugal- is undoubtedly excellent. Although it was not always so, recent policies of Portuguese governments improved the quality and the range of the Iberian country’s healthcare system dramatically and made it one of the best systems around the world. According to the Euro Health Consumer Index, Portugal was ranked as the 20th in 2015, which is respectable. Yet, only three years later, the same annual index ranked Portugal as the 13th best, which showcases the leap the country took in terms of health services. In addition, Portugal, although ranked as 13th, earned the first spot in patient rights and information, accessibility and waiting times, and overall health outcomes.
In fact, according to the report provided by the Annual Global Retirement Index, currently, Portugal has the best healthcare system in the world. The index for 2020 has ranked the Portuguese healthcare system as the best in the world, with 99 points out of 100. In this evaluation, the costs of the system are an essential factor that contributes to the overall score. Portugal’s professional healthcare costs are minimal, and it does not cut back from the quality at all.
The quality of healthcare in Portugal partly stems from the quality of the education of medical students. The School of Health Services at the University of Minho, The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Coimbra, and The Faculty of Medical Sciences of the New University of Lisbon are some of the best medical schools in Europe with exceptional quality of education.
Another aspect of Portuguese healthcare that makes the system the best in the world is its homogeneity in the country. According to the report, Portugal’s professional healthcare is not limited to big cities are touristic areas. It is also possible to take full advantage of the National Health Service in a small town.
Health Insurance for Short Residence or Visiting
To be able to obtain an entrance visa into Portugal, non-EU citizens must have health insurance with a minimum coverage of 37,000 euros. This insurance can be provided by several insurance companies in the home country of the visitor. In addition, non-EU students who will study in Portugal for a period of time must also have health insurance. This is critical because if the students do not have health insurance during their visa application, the Portuguese government will reject the application, and the host schools will not proceed with the visiting student’s enrolment.
Healthcare for the EU Citizens in Portugal
Portugal has reciprocal agreements with other EU member states as a policy of the EU itself. These agreements provide EU citizens with healthcare service in each of the EU member states. Thus, any EU citizen in Portugal is covered by the National Health Service of Portugal. The only requirement is to carry the EHIC card with them at all times in order to be able to present it to the service provider.
Healthcare for Non-Habitual Tax Residents in Portugal
Began in 2009, Portugal’s non-habitual tax residency scheme is a popular method used by many investors to benefit from tax advantages, and consequently, many non-habitual tax residents currently live in Portugal. The specific situation of NHRs differs between individuals. Some professions, serving the social security system, are covered by the National Health Service of Portugal. Others may need to obtain a private healthcare system through a provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is communication in Portuguese healthcare a problem?
Mostly because of the high-quality education in Portugal’s medical universities, almost all doctors serving in Portuguese hospitals speak English very well. Also, student exchange programs between EU member states provide potential healthcare professionals with enough exposure to English. Therefore, no, communication in Portuguese healthcare is not a problem.
2. How do I know if I am covered by Portugal’s National Health Service?
If you have a Portuguese residency and you make the social security contributions needed, you are covered by Portugal’s National Health Service.
3. How good is Portuguese healthcare when compared to others?
The Portuguese healthcare system improved its quality significantly in the last few years. Currently, it stands higher in rankings than the UK, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and many other European countries.
4. Do I need private health insurance in Portugal?
If you are a short-term resident or a tourist, you must have health insurance to be able to enter the country. However, if you are an EU citizen, reciprocal agreements between EU member states cover your professional healthcare expenditures.
5. If I have Golden Visa, do I have health insurance in Portugal?
If you have a Golden Visa in Portugal and Portuguese is your main residence, where you spend more than 183 days every year, you will be covered by the healthcare system in the country. However, if your main residence is not Portugal, you will need private health insurance in Portugal to cover you.