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How public and private health services work in Portugal

Health care is an issue that should be central in every country, because together with education they are basic rights for all people. Therefore, each place has its own network for the operation of these services – depending on the form of government and structure.

In the same way that in Brazil there is SUS, the Sistema Único de Saúde (Unique Health System), a network that guarantees free health care for the entire Brazilian population, in Portugal there is the very structure that provides health care to the Portuguese and foreign resident citizens. However, many people feel more secure and confident in private service, that is, in privately contracted health plans – especially for specialties.

There has been a breakthrough regarding this issue in Portugal in the last few years, because previously some moderator fees, as they call them, were applied in several cases, but they were temporarily withdrawn in some cases.

Check out all the information below about the public and private healthcare system in Portugal and how they work!

Public Health Service in Portugal

The public health system in Portugal operates from call centers and is not always completely free. As we mentioned above, there are moderator fees that have been reduced and almost extinguished over time. Even so, when an amount is charged, it is small – it may vary according to the income tax bracket.

In addition, a “family doctor” is also very common in Portugal, a professional who follows the family and the generations that will be born, making it possible to follow up on disease history and referrals to other specific areas. The family doctor is also responsible for making referrals to the hospital and other care centers. In this case, for routine monitoring, it can be said that the public service works well.

Another coverage that Portugal’s public service covers is the cost of medicine. Often the government pays, through specific aid programs, a portion of the total cost of the medication.

Private Health Care in Portugal

In Portugal, the public health system works – especially the family doctor we commented on above. However, many people still opt for a private service for greater safety and treatment options.

When consultations or specialty services are needed, public health may not function as well, since the lines are long to get care. Therefore, a private healthcare service can bring more security and comfort.

Therefore, in the private sphere, health plans usually have more affordable prices, but this is due to the condition that practically all insurances in the country work with coparticipation – when a fee is charged to the patient on top of each consultation, exam, or treatment.

Health Services in Portugal

Travel Insurance in Portugal

In addition to these health services within the country, there are services aimed specifically at tourists visiting the Portuguese country, because as they use the health care for a short period of time, or a specific period, there are other contracts, rules, and conditions.

One of these issues is the waiting period, because when you join a new health plan, even a tourist one, you have to fulfill a period before the plan will work fully.

Why hire a plan in the planning stage of coming to Portugal?

As in many places around the world, health insurance in Portugal also has a waiting period, that is, a time you have to wait to start using the benefits after you have contracted the plan. Hence, the importance of hiring the service before arriving in the country.

One option for travelers is, through a legal advisory and representation office, such as Moreira & Perfeito, to contract the plan, which consists of a private health insurance that can be contracted by any tourist even before arriving in Portugal. In this way, when you arrive in the Portuguese country, the plan’s waiting period will already be over.


With all this information you can conclude that health care is an essential service, so be sure to pay attention to it when moving to a new country or traveling. Make sure you have quality and reliable health care, so that you can live more peacefully and without fear of not being able to afford the expenses in this field!

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