Healthcare in Portugal
Healthcare in Portugal is generally very good. The World Health Organization ranked Portugal’s healthcare 12th in the world (ahead of the UK in 18th). There are three types of healthcare in Portugal: the National Health Service (NHS), special social health insurance schemes and voluntary private health insurance.
Like in the UK the NHS is managed by the Ministry of Health and financed through taxation.
Legal residents receive free healthcare in Portugal is free. Although there are the necessary amenities and services in places out of town specialist treatments and more facilities can be found in big cities.
Despite having some of the best healthcare in the world there are several problems that exist when it comes to healthcare in Portugal. Most of them stem from the fact that Portuguese hospitals are understaffed due to a shortage of physicians which leads to overcrowded wards and long waiting lists, especially for free consultations and basic services.
Although it is possible to use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for short stays if you register as a resident of Portugal you well need to obtain an NHS user card (Cartão de Utente). For this it is necessary to go to the local medical centre with your passport and residency card.
Private healthcare in Portugal is expensive, especially without insurance. Despite this, private healthcare in Portugal is growing in popularity and is broadly seen as the best option in order to avoid queues and have access to the best doctors.
Although uncommon, it is possible to have private insurance negotiated into employment packages, something which is also becoming more popular.
Pharmacies and Prescriptions
Pharmacies in Portugal are usually open from Monday to Friday, from 9:00 to 13:00, and from 15:00 to 19:00. Over weekends on both Saturdays and Sundays they are only open during morning hours. A list of 24 hour pharmacies can be found in any pharmacy.
Most prescriptions are subsidized by the government through social security meaning that they are very low cost. Without a prescription it is very expensive for even the most basic medication.
After paying into your social security you and your dependents are entitled to free or subsidized dental care. It is important to bring your Cartão de Utente to ensure that you don’t pay full price for treatment. Children between 3 and 16 years of age, pregnant women and pensioners have the right to receive dental care for free.