Taking out private health insurance in Portugal may seem unnecessary since foreigners can benefit from the local public medical system.
But this coverage is often insufficient.
The Portuguese Health Care System
Public Health Insurance in Portugal
There is a public health system in Portugal: the Serviço Nacional de Saúde, or SNS. It provides access to a wide range of services:
- Nursing care
- Maternity care
Insured persons must choose a referral doctor at the health center in their place of residence. And obtain his or her agreement to consult a specialist.
There is a fee for each medical procedure: 5 to 8 euros for a consultation and 15 euros for an emergency visit.
Low-income households, pregnant women, disabled people, children up to the age of 12, and people over 60 are exempt from paying them.
Limitations of the SNS
Public health insurance in Portugal suffers from some limitations. Waiting times to receive care in a public facility can be too long. And sometimes it is difficult to find a specialist outside of major cities.
For this reason, many residents in Portugal choose to seek treatment in the private sector. Its fees are quite high (40 to 70 euros for a general practitioner). And the patient must pay the entire cost.
Having a private health policy allows you to cover part of these expenses.
Health Insurance for Expats in Portugal With the SNS
Foreigners can benefit from the same health coverage as those insured by the SNS by presenting a European Health Insurance Card.
This card can be obtained free of charge from the public health system in any European Union country.
However, this coverage is only valid for short stays. And it is not valid as health insurance for expats in Portugal if they are residing long-term.
They must join the SNS and obtain an insurance card from their local health center.
In any case, the coverage offered by the SNS is limited. And given the shortcomings of the public health system, it is worthwhile to take out a private policy to be taken care of faster and better.
Choosing the Right Private Health Insurance in Portugal
Local vs International
Taking out a local insurance policy requires a good knowledge of the Portuguese language and the health care system there. It’s the only way of managing your contract and its reimbursements.
In addition, private health insurance in Portugal does not accept members beyond the age of 55.
A local contract also has the disadvantage of only covering the insured and his/her beneficiaries for care received inside the country. And it will not cover:
- Medical services provided during a vacation or business trip to another country
- Care received during a stay in the home country
- Repatriation, which is an expensive and sometimes unavoidable procedure.
Taking out an international insurance policy with a company from your country is a wiser choice.
The guarantees offered are designed to meet the specific needs of people living abroad.
And the management of the contract, the procedures, as well as the exchanges with the assistance are all done in your language.
Many specialized companies offer this type of contract. And it is not always easy to find your way around.
To make a quick choice, it is possible to use an online insurance comparator. It will give you access to a selection of detailed quotes free of charge.
And then, you will be able to choose the one that better suits your situation.
1st Euro Policies for Portugal: Health Insurance for Expats With Great Coverage
Insurers offer many different private health plans for Portugal.
The so-called “1st euro” ones are quite advantageous. They cover health care costs from the first euro spent, according to interesting rates that are known in advance.
The companies that manage these contracts have real expertise in international insurance.
And they often allow their policyholders to benefit from advantages. Some of them are optimized coverage in partner establishments or third-party hospital payments.
There are a large number of plans available on the market. And these contracts are particularly suitable for people looking for a flexible policy that offers good value for money.
It is indeed possible to subscribe to optional benefits. It allows you to benefit from coverage adapted to your needs and your budget.
The choice of coverages offered by this type of private insurance is very diverse. And it goes far beyond the health sector alone.
You will still have to fill in a health questionnaire upon enrollment. It may result in additional costs or exclusions of coverage in case of medical pre-existing conditions. This is the main drawback of this type of health coverage.
There is another option in Portugal as health insurance for expats: your home country Social Security.
In some cases, you might be able to keep affiliated when you move abroad. It has the advantage of not requiring a health questionnaire upon registration.
It is therefore particularly suitable for people with a medical history. Also for young people, for whom it offers advantageous rates.
But the basic Social Security offer is not very complete and it lacks flexibility. Its reimbursements can also be problematic.
They are usually calculated according to the cost of care in your home country. And, most of the time, the amount will not be enough to cover the whole bill.
You will have to pay the remaining costs. And they can be very high in the end.
This is why it is recommended to take out supplementary health insurance for Portugal, in addition to the basic Social Security policy.
It will give you better reimbursements, and a greater choice of guarantees. Also repatriation insurance.
To subscribe to these supplementary policies, you will have to pay another fee. And fill in a health questionnaire.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, foreigners can benefit from the local Portuguese public health system. However, this coverage is often insufficient.
The public health insurance system in Portugal is the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS). It provides access to a wide range of benefits.
The Serviço Nacional de Saúde offers the following coverages:
– Nursing care
– Maternity care
Local companies offering private health insurance in Portugal do not accept members beyond the age of 55. In addition, it is necessary to be familiar with the language and the health care system of the country to join.