Healthcare in Portugal should be on the top of your list when moving to Portugal.
when making the step to settle whether to start a new working life or to retire, healthcare is something that plays heavy on the minds of those at retirement age, but often overlooked by younger people.
If you are in a transition period and have not quiet decided to settle you will have a 90 day period in which to stay in Portugal before having to register as a resident. During this period you will need to have your own healthcare insurance in place, this does not mean having to choose solely private healthcare services, you will still be able to use the service of the local healthcare service (SNS) in a medical emergency.
Telephone number for all emergencies in Portugal is 112. If you have a non emergency and are just feeling unwell you can visit the local (Health Center) medical centre these will be clearly sign posted in every major town and are open normally 8:00 am 8:00 pm, you may have to make an appointment and given a time to see the doctor later that day, Passport or national ID card is required, if you are told No! Then this means all appointment slots have been taken and you will need to return the following day. You will be asked to pay a small fee ( Under €10)for the appointment slot, most appointments will normally be for non serous medical cases and can be treat by either a prescription or prescription at the medical centre by the nurse resident. If your illness is more serious the doctor will automatically refer you to the nearest hospital either by ambulance or a referral letter.
Becoming a Portuguese resident into the healthcare system.
Now you have taken the plunge and decided to settle in Portugal, no doubt you will already have applied for your residency?
You now need to go to your local doctors surgery/medical centre you will need to take a valid passport and your new resident certificate which will have your address on it to show that you live local and this is the right (Health Center) for you area of residence. You will then be given a piece of paper with your health number on it called a (Untente Health No. You will eventually be sent a health card once your details have been processed.
If you are on long term prescription drugs it is best for you to obtain a letter from your own countries doctor to verify you medication. You will need to make an appointment to see a doctor who will discuss you long term prescriptions these are normally given as a 3 month supply and it is then just a simple case of dropping off your old prescription at the reception desk and picking up the new one in a couple of days. (Portugal has an annual contract scheme with health care workers including doctors, in some cases there are often a shortage of doctors who can often be spread around more than one district and often overworked) it is well advised to put in your repeat prescription at least 3 weeks before you need it, if your current one is still valid they will take a photocopy and return you the original.
Portugal has an extensive, tax-funded public healthcare system, meaning that most medication will be subsidized to you at a fraction of the cost, these can be offset against your personal tax allowance. The SNS service provide most essential medical services free of charge, non-essential services including regular treatments such as physiotherapy are available for a small payment.