When you are going through the process to move to Portugal by getting the D7 residency visa, one of the requirements is that you have health insurance. The process is not hard, but you need to check off a few boxes. Portuguese medical insurance is said to be some of the best in the world. In fact, the World Health Organization ranked it the 12th best. On top of this, compared to medical insurance in the US, Portuguese Medical Insurance is significantly cheaper. Before we get into how to get health insurance here, let’s discuss how the system works:
How the Portuguese Medical Insurance Works
STATE MEDICAL INSURANCE
State healthcare is available to Portuguese citizens via the Servicio Nacional de Saude (SNS). This service is run by the Ministry of Health and is not the easiest to figure out. The overall service is good, but most likely – if you’re an expat, you won’t have the patience to work with this system. The system has a lot of subscribers and waiting times for services can take what seems like forever.
The state-run system covers a percentage of care, so if you have a particular illness or a pre-existing condition; private health insurance will most likely cover more of what you need.
Portuguese health insurance also does not cover dental. Eye care is complicated. You need to see your health center to get a referral and since the system is so booked up, getting an appointment can take months. Contact lenses and glasses are also not covered. For all these reasons, we decided to just pick up private health insurance (covered at the bottom of the post).
State Medical Insurance for Portuguese Employees
If you work in Portugal for a Portuguese company, the company will enroll you and set up payments into their social security system.
If you are self-employed, you need to apply the Instituto da Solidariedade e da Segurança Social BEFORE you apply for state-run Portuguese Medical Insurance. Once you are in the Social Security system you will need to:
- Visit your local centro de saude
- Bring your social security card, passport & residence permit
When you go, you will be assigned a doctor and given a temporary registration certificate. A permanent cartão do utente (healthcare card) will be mailed to you. You need to bring this card with you anytime you visit the health center to get your discounted services.
State Medical Insurance for Non-Portuguese Residents
Those who haven’t received their residence permit can go to their local Junta da Freguesia (town hall). Ask them for a certificate of residency (you will need ID, NIF & your lease – takes a few days). The health center also accepts this for the cartão do utente.
PRIVATE PORTUGUESE INSURANCE
In case you don’t meet the qualifications for Portuguese state insurance or that you need to have wider coverage, you can procure private medical insurance. State-run insurance does not cover dental and their vision services are narrow, so if you need to visit the dentist or eye doctor, this will be a must for you.
Private healthcare in Portugal will make you privy to short wait times, better medical centers, more choice, and even more English speaking doctors. It also comes in handy if you should need to go in for an emergency room visit in Lisbon.
How much you pay depends on which insurance agency you choose, but the prices aren’t anywhere near what you’d pay in other countries.
NOTE: Many of the private insurance companies won’t accept or will cancel people once they reach 55 years old. Make sure that if you are close to this age that you discuss what the policy is as you get older so you don’t get a nasty surprise.
List of Portuguese Medical Insurance Companies
These are a few Portuguese Medical Insurance companies you can choose from and the average price for their services. We’re still researching these and will update as the companies get back to us.
Ageas Seguros: Cost is around €130/month
Allianz: Will insure over 65 with a partnership with Afpop.
Medis: Will insure people under 65, if you buy your insurance before your 65th birthday, you can stay on forever. Cost is around €130/month for younger people and €130/month for a younger couple.
Multicare: Will insure over 55 years.
AXA: I’ll update once I get more details from them.
Tranquilidade: I’ll update once I get more details from them.
Regency: I’ll update once I get more details from them.
PRO TIP: If you have a pre-existing condition and you want your insurance to cover treatment, wait around 6 months before you start doing tests and seeing specialists (only if it is not an emergency – medical issues should be dealt as quickly as possible – so this is not medical advice). If you start to get tests a month or two after you get your insurance, they may decline pre-authorizations because of “pre-existing” conditions – even if you never had signs of the issue before.
Portuguese Insurance for EU Citizens
Citizens of the EU have it way easier than other expats. Through the European Health Insurance Card, they get access to the Portuguese healthcare system. Most treatments are free or require a small fee. In the long run, an EU citizen moving to Portugal will probably want to fully move either into the Portuguese health system or pick up private insurance, but in the short term, the European Health Insurance card should be just fine.
Have more questions about Portugal? Leave it in the comments and we’ll get back to you!