Whether you are an expat living in Portugal or considering moving and living long term in Portugal, medical health insurance is essential. Even though the country has a good public healthcare system in place, a private health insurance policy is something you should consider. Here is more to know about Portugal’s health insurance system.
Public vs. private healthcare
You have two options when it comes to health insurance in Portugal: public and private health insurance policies.
- Public healthcare is accessible to all residents in Portugal regardless of location, and the Portugal ministry of health manages it through the national healthcare services.
- Private healthcare is also accessible to everyone in Portugal, but it provides better access to healthcare thanks to shorter wait times. However, it has a premium cost, and many people, especially expats, opt for private health insurance in Portugal to strike a balance between cost and service.
Note that everyone in Portugal can access treatment in private healthcare facilities whether or not they have private health insurance. But private medical insurance significantly minimizes the costs.
Is healthcare free in Portugal?
A good thing about Portugal Healthcare is that it is well developed, making it possible for citizens and expats who have paid into the Portugal social security system to access low-cost health care. However, basic medical services are free in public hospitals fr those who are eligible, while others benefit from reduced costs.
Like all other Healthcare systems in other countries, free healthcare has benefits and drawbacks. One is the long wait to see a doctor because many people are signed up for public healthcare than the system can comfortably support. That means emergency surgeries can stretch into years which can be dangerous.
The importance of health insurance in Portugal
The benefits of having health insurance in Portugal always outweigh the costs, whether you are an expat or a citizen. You have better and faster access to doctors, especially specialist physicians and surgeons. Have you ever waited for your appointment in Portugal public hospitals? The long wait is enough reason to seek private health insurance.
If you have visited Portugal for the first time, you can still see a doctor if you are sick or hurt during your time here, but you have to pay for the treatment out of pocket. And if you intend to move to Portugal from the US, you need proof of insurance to apply for a visa.
However, keep in mind that health insurance is different from basic travel insurance for Portugal residents. International health insurance, also called visa insurance, is slightly different from both.
Cost of health insurance in Portugal
It is advisable to compare health insurance policies before making a choice. Factors such as your health history and personal preference will impact your choice of health insurance and its costs. Health insurance providers in Portugal take into account the following factors when determining the ideal health insurance plan for you:
- Level of coverage you want.
- Profession or lifestyle.
- Medical history and preexisting medical conditions.
The price fluctuates depending on the benefits and deductibles of your health insurance plan. But generally, Portugal’s private health insurance policies are relatively cheap compared to those offered in other parts of Europe. It is also possible to get a lower cost per person if you consider a family health insurance plan.
Remember that some private health insurance companies in Portugal do not insure people over 55years while others stop the coverage at 65years. Therefore you can consider an international insurer if you are retiring to Portugal and think that your age might prevent you from getting private health insurance.
Do you need health insurance as an international student in Portugal?
As an international student studying in Portugal, you also need valid international health insurance that caters to your healthcare needs for the entire time you are studying. Depending on your need and budget, you can identify international student insurance with all the needed coverage.
Can you sign up for a health insurance plan online?
Yes, you can. When you find a suitable health insurance company, review their website and provide more information about yourself. Most health insurance companies avail a medical questionnaire to fill and even request a quote online. After that, a representative will contact you to verify the information and sign you up for the health insurance plan you choose.
Health insurance coverage in and outside Portugal
Before choosing a health insurance policy in Portugal, consider whether you want a local healthcare plan or an international one as well. A global healthcare insurance policy is well suited for expats who often travel in and out of Portugal, and it can also take the place of travel insurance, saving you time and money.
Ensure you do all your due diligence when purchasing a health insurance plan to ensure it suits your budget and needs.