Moving to Portugal: Things to Know About Health Insurance in Portugal

Portugal is one of the best places to retire in Europe. But before you decide on living in this country, there are a few things that you have to consider, such as health insurance. Whether you are alone or with your family, you need to find a policy that suits both your needs and your budget. Portugal features quality hospitals and private clinics, and yet there are over 30 cases of tuberculosis for every 100,000 residents. Health insurance is the only way to protect yourself in case you fall ill.

Types of Health Insurance in Portugal

Expats will find both public and private healthcare facilities in Portugal. With a myriad of health coverage policies available to expats, choosing the right option can be challenging. The healthcare system in this country consists of three coexisting systems: voluntary private health insurance, special social health insurance, and the National Health Service (NHS). The public healthcare system is managed by the Ministério de Saúde (the Portuguese Ministry of Health).

Over 25 percent of the population is covered by the health subsystems. The National Health Service is funded through general taxation. Short-term visitors are given health insurance through EU reciprocal health agreements. British expats who are legally resident in Portugal are entitled to medical care just like any other Portuguese national. In order to benefit from medical treatment as a resident, it is necessary to apply for cartão de utente, a National Health Service user card at your local health center.

The Portuguese Healthcare System

The Portuguese population enjoys increasing life expectancy. All residents have access to medical insurance provided by the National Health Service. One-fifth to a quarter of the population receives a second layer of medical coverage through voluntary health insurance and health subsystems. Over 10 percent of GDP is devoted to medical care. This makes Portugal one of the countries with the highest level of health expenditure in the European Union.

Expats moving to Portugal with no employment must provide a proof of private health coverage in order to obtain their residence permit. As a resident, you can apply for a medical card. This can be done at a local health center with a residency card and a passport. Non-EU expats working in Portugal who don't contribute to social security need private medical insurance. Tourists spending short periods in this country should have a travel health insurance policy. The family members of those people who have made contributions to the Portuguese social security enjoy free healthcare services.


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