Healthcare in Portugal
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Healthcare in Portugal
Portugal has a good state healthcare system, but overcrowding and inconsistent standards of treatment may make private care a preferable alternative. Within the healthcare system, treatment is provided without charge to Portuguese citizens.
Private medical treatment is increasingly expensive, so private medical insurance is recommended.
Due to an agreement with Portugal, British passport-holders are provided with free care in state hospitals. Other EU nationals must present form E111 when seeking care.-->
No matter what country you decide to relocate to, getting private healthcare is always a safe option. The quality of national healthcare fluctuates from country to country. The price of the most fundamental care is often very high and this is supposing you find a suitable hospital or doctor to begin with.
Private healthcare, on the other hand, often adheres to a standardisation of service. Consequently, as an expat, it is probably wise to invest in private healthcare at least until you are completely familiar with the national health system. Getting medical treatment for you and your family without comprehensive health insurance could prove arduous, and no-one wants the hassle of bureaucracy in an emergency. You may even find that the country you are emigrating to has no national health service.
The benefits of private healthcare include:
Peace of mind
Better efficiency and quality of service
Could save large sums money (possibly thousands of pounds) in the case of an emergency
A vaster choice of services and practitioners
No waiting lists or bureaucracy
Ensures you do not have to settle for local, possibly inadequate or unhygienic, services
Request an English-speaking doctor / nurse
Necessity, not luxury
In recent years, private health insurance enquiries have soared in popularity amongst emigrants. By way of policy comparison, people and businesses are continually looking to reduce the cost of their private healthcare. For many, this is because private health cover is not considered an extravagance, but a requisite for living overseas.
However, it must be acknowledged that the rules and regulations associated with international private healthcare are often complex, and attempts to find realistic costs and cover can be both timely and tedious. Therefore, it is vital to approach private health insurance with a few certainties in mind:
Who can provide it and what you should expect
Many private health insurers now provide cover for most countries, so your options are vast. However, if you are emigrating to a country without nationalised healthcare, there are many factors to consider when choosing an insurance company and policy many of which differ by location and cost.
Will the insurer cover:
A chronic illness / condition?
A country at war?
You will have to weigh-up the costs of such services as private doctors, outpatient medicine, and dental cover. But that's not all. You may also have to decide where you'd like to receive treatment in the case of a serious health problem or injury. Does your adopted nation meet requirements, or would you prefer to return to the UK for treatment?
Your chosen destination
All though a policy may meet your medical requirements, a country's health service may not. Therefore, wherever your business takes you, it is important to consider:
Laws and regulations of the country
Accessibility and availability of treatment
24-hour emergency treatment
Case management and service delivery
Choosing your health insurance policy
When deciding upon a suitable private health plan, will you require any of the following benefits? If so, will you be able to receive them?
The region / country of relocation
Emergency evacuation and transportation
In-patient and day case management
Chronic and existing illnesses and conditions
Dental / optical requirements and treatment
You will find that many policies include a small standard excess, which will be charged either per year, or per claim. However, if you choose a higher excess plan these premiums can be remarkably reduced.
Do I have any other choices?
Depending on where you decide to relocate, there are other health care options available to you:
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Providing you are within the European Economic Area, UK citizens are eligible for emergency treatment with a EHIC. It entitles you to exactly the same standard of healthcare as a national. However, the card does not cover the cost of repatriation should you need to be flown back to the UK.
In some instances, the EHIC will cover you for pre-existing conditions, and it is often possible to prearrange treatments. Do remember, however, that an EHIC will not cover treatment at a private clinic or centre: always ask where you are being referred to for any treatment.
Treatment in the UK
It is a general truism that emigration is fraught with significant costs. As a result, people often consider private health insurance one cost too many especially if they are on a tight budget. They are all too willing to run the risk.
Consequently, many emigrants and travellers opt to return to the UK for medical treatment, but often overlook the fact that this too can be a very risky option. Firstly, you still need to be registered with a UK doctor to be eligible for treatment upon your return. If unprepared, you could find yourself in the same situation back in the UK.
Secondly, you need to account for medical emergencies which would require immediate attention. Is it really worth the risk?
24 hour emergency treatment is available at all major hospitals, but don't expect all hospital staff to understand English.
Pharmacies are easy to find throughout Portugal. They are commonly open from Monday to Friday 0900 to 1300, and then 1500 to 1900. On weekends, they are open from 0900 to 1300.