The Portuguese healthcare system is characterized by three coexisting, overlapping systems: the National Health Service (NHS), special public and private insurance schemes for certain professions (health subsystems), and private voluntary health insurance. The healthcare delivery system in Portugal consists of a network of public and private health care providers; each of them is connected to the patients in its own way.
The National Health Service covers primary, hospital, ambulatory and continuous care (long-term care). The National Healthcare System is managed by the Ministry of Health. There are private healthcare services that have a contract with the National Health Service and have the same costs for the patient as public healthcare. For non-contracted private health services the costs of treatment are paid in full by the patient.
You can obtain medically necessary treatment by presenting the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), when you are temporarily staying in Portugal. Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You may need such treatment in case of acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth or to a chronic illness. The need for treatment must emerge during the course of your stay. If your illness requires regular treatment while you are temporarily staying abroad, agree with the treatment provider beforehand on the arrangement of treatment. Treatments that need to be arranged in advance include, for example, dialysis, oxygen therapy, specialised care of asthma and chemotherapy as well as echocardiography in chronic autoimmune diseases.
You will receive treatment on the same terms and at the same price as the locals. It is advisable to carry copies of your European Health Insurance Card with you, along with the card itself. If you didn’t have your EHIC with you or it was not accepted, and you were required to pay all the costs of treatment yourself, you might be able to apply for reimbursement from Kela retrospectively.
Information about places of treatment and reimbursements can be obtained in mainland Portugal from the Regional Health Administration (Administrações Regional de Saúde). Contact information for Regional Health Administrations are listed in the European Commission website.
Madeira and the Azores have their own practices, which you can enquire about from the Health Service of Madeira IASAUDE (website in Portuguese) in Funchal and from the Regional Directorate for Health of the Azores (website in Portuguese) in Angra do Heroismo.
In need of a doctor in mainland Portugal, go to the nearest health centre (Centro de Saúde). The health centres provide general practitioners. Show your European Health Insurance Card and ID and ask to receive treatment in accordance with EU provisions. You will then pay a standard fee (taxa moderadora) for your treatment. The fees vary depending on the procedure. Medical care is free in some cases for example for children under the age of 18, pregnant women, the chronically ill and pensioners as residents in Portugal.
In urgent cases, you can go to the permanent emergency service (Serviço Atendimento Permanente, SAP), which is open 24 hours a day, or to a hospital.
There are a limited number of public dental services, and a standard fee for treatment must be paid in accordance with the procedure.
When you collect prescription medication prescribed by a doctor in Portugal from a pharmacy (farmácia), present your European Health Insurance Card. You will then receive a reimbursement for the costs of some medication. The level depends on, among other things, the seriousness of the illness being treated.
Usually, you need a doctor’s referral from the primary health care centre for hospital treatment. At the hospital, show your European Health Insurance Card and ID and ask to receive treatment in accordance with EU provisions. You will pay a standard fee (taxa moderadora) for your treatment. The fees vary depending on the procedure. Patient transport in an emergency is free of charge.
If your illness requires you to use special transport when returning to Finland, you will be liable for the travel costs in their entirety. You are recommended to take out a travel insurance that covers these costs.
Read more about suddenly falling ill in Europe.
Read more about reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad.
If you wish to travel to Portugal for the purpose of using healthcare services you can find general information on seeking treatment abroad on our site. Some useful websites concerning seeking treatment in Portugal are listed below.
You can find private healthcare service providers operating in Portugal most easily through internet search engines. There are more private hospitals and medical centres in larger towns and tourist areas, such as Lisbon, Porto, Cascais and Algarve. Advice on finding public service providers can be found on the website of the National Health Service.
You can also search for healthcare professionals registered with Portugal´s medical, dental and nurses associations from the following search services
- Ordem dos enfermeiros (nurses)
- Ordem dos Médicos (doctor search service by speciality and on the basis of geographical area)
- Ordem dos Médicos Dentistas (search service for dentists by area and locality)
If you are unable to find the name you are looking for through the Medical Association´s search service, you can contact the Portuguese Medical Association by email at omcne(at)omcne.pt.
Quality and safety of treatment
The Portuguese Medical Association monitors the competence and legality of the activities of physicians. If you have doubts about the doctor´s competence, you can contact the Medical Association, Ordem dos Medicos (website in Portuguese) directly.
Information about healthcare quality control, complaint procedures and clinical standards are available on the website of the Entidade Reguladora da Saúde.
In the event of treatment injuries, the legislation and patient insurance of the country providing the treatment is always applied. In case you are unhappy with the treatment you received, you should primarily try to sort the matter out with the treatment provider. If you wish to make a complaint, you must contact the Entidade Reguladora da Saúde.