February 23, 2022

Everything about the Portuguese Health-Care System

One of the many advantages that citizens and legal residents of Portugal can take advantage of is the healthcare system and health insurance. This section gives a comprehensive description of the healthcare system, including both public and private medical care.

Private health insurance is available in Portugal, which is a smart idea considering the long wait periods for elective treatments and examinations in the public system.

If you need regular care help, there are also some options available in Portugal for expats. For those based in the Algarve, Algarve Care Services is the perfect solution. As an award-winning company established in 2017, Algarve Care Services supports the expat community in Algarve with a caring and professional service.

How does healthcare work in Portugal?

Whether you use the public or private sector, Portugal's healthcare system is great. High vaccination rates and a long-life expectancy are two indicators of good healthcare in Portugal. In this section, we'll go over some basic information on healthcare in Portugal, including expected prices and the benefits and drawbacks of the public healthcare system.

Facts about Healthcare in Portugal

  • In Portugal, both the public and private sectors offer medical care. The majority of hospitals, medical facilities, and other institutions are either public or private, not both.
  • Portugal's average life expectancy is 81 years (which is higher than the EU average).
  • The Portuguese government is spending less on public healthcare than other European countries, and out-of-pocket healthcare costs are rising.
  • The major causes of health issues in Portugal are drinking, obesity, and drinking.
  • Portugal’s most pressing health issues are cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

The health-Care System in Portugal Described

What is Portugal's health-care system like? In Portugal, the healthcare system is a combination of public and private services. The Serviço Nacional de Sade (SNS), the Portuguese public healthcare system, is in charge of public health care.

You must first register with your local council to use your entitlement to state medical services (junta de freguesia). You must obtain evidence of address from this location in order to register with the local medical centre, or centre de sade. Please bring your residence card (titulo de residência) as well as your work visa.

You will be granted your healthcare number, Nmero de Utente, after joining with the health center. This number will be required whenever you use public healthcare services.

Is Public Healthcare in Portugal Free?

Yes, all citizens and legal permanent residents of Portugal are entitled to free state-provided healthcare. Although medical care is generally free, you may be charged costs for visits to emergency rooms, family doctors, or ambulance services. These will usually cost between 5 and 20 EUR (6 and 22 USD).

What Is Covered by Public Health Care?

With the exception of dental treatments and cosmetic surgery, all medical procedures are funded by public healthcare in Portugal. This encompasses both emergency and non-emergency preventive care, diagnosis, and treatment.

There are a variety of public hospitals to choose from around the country of Portugal. In each community, there are also local health centers who provide primary medical care.

Receiving Medical Care and Medicines

You are assigned a family doctor when you register with your local health center, centre de sade, providing the facility has the competence to do so (otherwise, you are put on the waiting list to be assigned a family doctor). You'll must see whichever doctor is free in busy centers. In general, your family doctor should be your first contact point with the public healthcare system, such as for specialist referrals or other specific checks.

You can receive medication from a pharmacy or farmácia if you need it. These can be seen all across the country. Some drugs may only be bought with a prescription written from a doctor. These may be state-subsidized, meaning you would only be responsible for a portion of the total cost.

Portugal's Healthcare Costs

Although the Portuguese public healthcare system is mainly free, in rare situations you may be asked to pay for medical treatments.

You would have to pay for doctor's appointments, hospitals, and medical crises at basic medical centers or centros de saude. You'll also be asked to contribute a portion of the cost of diagnostic tests.

In the case of various charges associated with additional diagnostics and exams, you will be required to pay a percentage determined by the National Health System (SNS) , which varies depending on the treatment. For an exam, the highest amount you'll have to spend is 40 EUR (44 USD). You can deduct these costs when you file your taxes, but they cannot exceed 1,000 EUR (1,100 USD).

What are the benefits and drawbacks of Portugal's healthcare system?


  • It's largely free. Expenses for public medical treatment are typically between 5 and 20 EUR (6–22 USD), therefore you should not be surprised by high expenditures.
  • The medical personnel in Portugal are highly qualified, and public hospitals in larger cities are well-equipped with cutting-edge resources and medical technology.


  • The elective procedures have long waiting lists in the public sector.
  • Emergency departments are sometimes overcrowded and seeing a doctor may take several hours.
  • Portugal has a nurse shortfall compared to doctor scarcity, which is most noticeable during national conflicts.

We hope this article was helpful and that you have a better overview of the Portuguese Health care system.

If you are living or spending some time in the Algarve and need professional Care and support services, the team at Algarve Care Services is available for you.

Algarve Care Services

Algarve Care Services are an Award Winning Homecare Provider that coordinates and delivers quality care to older adults and adults with disabilities.
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