Portugal is located in the south-west of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Being in the westernmost part of mainland Europe, it is bordered by Spain on the east and north, and the Atlantic Ocean on its west. Madeira and Azores, both Atlantic archipelagos, are also part of Portugal.
Portuguese healthcare at a glance
The healthcare system in Portugal has come a long way since a series of government reforms in 2002. As a result, the system was made more efficient and effective. The Portuguese healthcare system is basically available to all the eligible populace in Portugal and efficiently works in the same manner as other European Union states. You will find both public and private healthcare facilities in Portugal.
Short-term European Union visitors are given healthcare through the European Union reciprocal healthcare agreement. However, you are required to obtain the E111 form from your place of birth and then submit it to a hospital or clinic in Portugal where the medical attention is required.
For those who are planning to permanently move to Portugal and live as European Union residents, there is free basic healthcare; this includes doctor appointments and medication. Additionally, retired European Union Nationals who plan to permanently live in Portugal will need to have an E121 form. European Union citizens who are to retire before they qualify for state pensions can still avail of free health cover for two years if they obtain the E106 form. In the case of this temporary cover expiring before you reach retirement age, there are two possible options; one is to make a voluntary social security contribution, and the other is to apply for private health insurance. Furthermore, all non-European Union nationals should apply for private insurance in order to obtain medical treatment in Portugal.
If you are working in Portugal and you are contributing to the social security system, you are automatically entitled to free treatments across Portugal’s medical spectrum. However, you should remember that non-essential medicines are not given for free. You will be paying anywhere between 40% and 100% of the cost. Since most of the pharmacies in Portugal are managed by qualified chemists, a lot of medicines are easily obtained without a prescription.
Being a resident in Portugal, you are eligible for medical cards that provide free medical assistance from your doctor at your local health centre. In order to obtain the card, you are required to present your residency permit, along with your social security card to the health centre.
Healthcare in Portugal
If you are considering moving to Portugal for a lengthy period, it is important that you are familiar with the healthcare available. Depending on where you come from, you may find the healthcare quality in Portugal below the standards you are used to, particularly if you are from the United States or Northern Europe. However, this does not necessarily mean that Portugal’s healthcare system is poor, because it’s not. Portugal’s healthcare is relatively good, and has been enhanced with the improvements observed in recent years.
Additionally, you do not have to worry if you have problems speaking the local language. Most Portuguese doctors can speak English and there are also foreign doctors present, particularly in popular tourist destinations. However, you should be aware that you will seldom find English-speaking doctors in rural areas. Finding a public hospital in these rural locations can be somewhat of an issue and finding private healthcare facilities is even more challenging.
The families of those people who have made contributions to the Portuguese social security, along with retirees, are eligible for free healthcare services. People who are over sixty-five years of age are also provided with subsidized prescriptions. If you do not qualify for the public health system, you can always apply for private health insurance.
Living in Portugal
If you are moving to Portugal and you are not a citizen of the European Union, you are not entitled to utilise the public health system unless you are employed and paying social security through automatic deductions from your paycheques. If you do so, you and your family are entitled to the services provided by the public health system. Otherwise, it is recommended that you purchase private health insurance.