Health is paramount to a complete, satisfying life; or so it says every adage and proverb of every culture on this big, blue and green marble.
Health, luck, and fortune, usually by this order.
Some lucky ones may lead a mostly healthy, carefree life, away from stethoscopes, old men in white, and the pale, void corridors from the hospital. That is, at least and by the best of chances, until old age comes, and the gears start to scream for a little maintenance.
If, however, health is not a given, as is the case for most of us, that require assistance throughout life, either for small issues or grave misfortunes, then the quality of the stethoscopes, the wisdom of the old men in white, and the pristine conditions of those void corridors start to be a question to consider. This and, of course, whether or not it costs a fortune.
It is a well-known fact that health systems in Europe are, in general, one of the best and most modern in the world. They are, also, somewhat socialized, and the idea of “insurance”, although also valid, is not as necessary or of ulterior importance as, say, in the USA or Brazilian model.
Portugal is not an exception to this fact: this country has both a public and private system of health, but the public parcel of healthcare is by far the most used and functions, apart from one or two exceptions, quite well.
Portugal’s Public Healthcare
Portugal has an organigram that shares responsibilities regarding the different aspects of healthcare and services for the public.
There are health centers, in which family doctors – doctors assigned to a household – perform regular appointments, and it’s also the place where most vaccinations and exams take place.
The Hospitals, particularly District Main Hospitals, also perform consultations, but these are normally more specialized; they are also the place where the most infirm patients are interned, and where emergencies take place.
In Portugal, every single public healthcare patient, user, has a personalized and structured history of consults, exams, vaccines, etc., that are shared with private healthcare and among doctors. This eases the diagnostics and facilitates communication among Hospitals, Health Centers, and Private Doctors.
Although tendentially free, small fees are paid by most health interventions, including consultations and emergency care. These fees are known as “taxas moderadoras”, or “moderating fees”, which are essentially quite a complementary taxation, low and never exceeding 20€ .
However, if by some unfortunate circumstance you need surgery, you are exempt from paying. You are also exempt if you gather some characteristics, for instance, low income, renal problems, the continuous need of care, physiotherapy, state-prescribed vaccination, etc.
Using Public HealthCare as an Expat
Brazilian and Cape Green citizens have it easy: by applying to the PB4, they have access to the Portuguese National Healthcare.
For Brazilians, obtaining a Certificado de Direito à Assistência Médica (CDAM) is enough to access Public Healthcare with the exact same rights as a Portuguese Citizen. These rights are transferrable to all of its dependents.
Furthermore, every citizen from the European Union State Members shares the same rights as a Portuguese citizen.
Lastly, there are some countries with bilateral treaties with Portugal who also share the rights of Portuguese citizens, namely: Andorra, Québec, Morocco e Tunisia.
There are plenty of benefits and most of them are easily accessible; you can, however, get informed next to the SNS website, which is very succinctly organized and translated.
Portuguese Private HealthCare
The private parcel is usually praised for the speed of scheduling and the quality of care; this, of course, is much more expensive and insurances often only contemplate and cover a percentage of the price of the procedure.
This is, however, not a big problem for Portuguese citizens and those who have access to the National HealthCare, since it works exceptionally well and is generally praised worldwide.
It is regarded, by almost every specialist, as perhaps the greatest achievement of post-April 25th Democratic Revolution.
The good news is, insurances are not that expensive either: thus, providing a choice between Public HealthCare and the high-quality Private Hospital and Private Doctors that can, in a day, schedule an appointment that would take a month in a Public Facility.
This is especially true for dental work, which unfortunately is not covered by Public HealthCare.
Having insurance can be profitable by dental consults alone, and still offering advantageous access to other Private Care features
All things considered...
If you’re considering moving to Portugal, for peace, the stability of the political regime, weather, or safety, you can add Health to the picture.
Both Public and Private Healthcare have their merits and are recognized as one of the best, even to European standards, and access is open to foreigners.
In Portugal, your health will be in good hands.