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Health care in Portugal

A high quality health care system

Portugal has a high quality health care system, appearing among the best in the world in various rankings. If only health care for retirees is taken into account, it ranks first *. It is constituted by the SNS, the National Health Service (official institutions and services that provide health care to the Government of Portugal), by the public support health subsystem (public entities that develop activities of promotion, prevention and treatment in the area of ​​health) and by all private entities and free professionals who work in accordance with the guidelines of the NHS for the provision of care or health activity.

* Ranking published by the specialized magazine International Living Magazine, available at


The Portuguese public health system is not completely free. In some situations, it can be. In others, low, very affordable prices are paid. Surgeries and exams that in the USA would cost thousands of dollars, in Portugal they cost, at most, a few hundred euros. The low values ​​are also valid for consultations: even in private hospitals, it is possible to consult a specialist by paying only the equivalent in euros to 25 dollars. And the drugs are also subsidized by the State, being sold at a very low price to those who present the prescription issued by a family doctor.





As in any capitalist country, also in Portugal, the private health system has its advantages, such as the freedom of choosing a doctor or scheduling appointments at closer dates and at times more convenient to your schedule. However, the amounts paid to enjoy these “comforts” when compared to the quality and accessibility of the public service, make the vast majority of the population choose to use the national health system.

Family doctors

In Portugal, each user (called “user”) has periodic monitoring with a general practitioner designated according to the address of the address and who usually attends the nearest health center. This is the “family doctor”. He accompanies all members of the family, providing the most simple and immediate care. In addition, it prepares and updates a fully digitalized medical record where the patient’s history is stored, in order to organize the information and allow any health unit in the country to access it in any need, facilitating care. Meanwhile, consultations with specialists and emergency care are carried out in hospitals.

In accordance with the ideals of the Carnation Revolution, responsible for the redemocratization of Portugal in 1974, and of Law No. 56/79 that implemented it in 1979, the National Health Service must guarantee the “right to health protection, the provision of care global health and access to all citizens, regardless of their economic and social condition, under the terms of the constitution ”. Therefore, there is no major restriction on who can benefit from public health services in Portugal. And even though I’m a foreigner. If you live in the country, are on business, have dual citizenship or are just a tourist, you can still have access to these benefits.


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