Healthcare in Portugal || Part 3

What services do I have to pay for?

1. Foreign nationals who make contributions to Social Security:
In general terms, foreign nationals who make contributions to Social Security, and their families, pay for the health care provided by SNS institutions and services under the same conditions afforded to Portuguese nationals. In accordance with the legislation in force, health care services are provided free or at a low cost, having regard to the economic and social conditions of the national. The national shall pay an amount, known as “Taxa Moderadora” (Co-payment), in accordance with the rates in force, for each consultation or service provided to him. Clinical tests, x-rays and other necessary diagnostic tests are also subject to co-payments, according to rates fixed by law.

The following are exempt from making co-payments:
▪ children from birth to the age of 12 (inclusive);
▪ young people who are undergoing counselling with youth centres in relation to health monitoring and sexual and reproductive health;
▪ pregnant women;
▪ women in purpureum (the period of eight weeks after childbirth);
▪ women receiving family planning services;
▪ unemployed persons registered in an employment centre and their dependants;
▪ people who receive official benefits due to economic hardship;
▪ persons with a recognised chronic disease and certified by a medical practitioner.

2. Foreign nationals not making contributions to Social Security:
Foreign nationals who don’t make contributions to Social Security may be charged for services in accordance with the scale of charges in force, except when:

▪ another family member makes contributions. In such cases, foreign nationals shall pay for the health services under the same conditions afforded to Portuguese nationals;
▪ they are experiencing economic hardship. The person’s economic and social circumstances must be verified by the Social Security office (you must present a document to that effect issued by that office);
▪ they are in need of health care and in a situation that constitutes a risk to public health and where health services are free:
a. All communicable diseases (being all diseases subject to Compulsory Notification, such as: tuberculosis, HIV/Aids and sexually transmitted diseases);
b. Maternal health, children’s health and family planning (all situations are covered given that, from the perspective of public health, they all involve matters related to primary, secondary and tertiary prevention);
c. Vaccination (vaccines listed in the national vaccination plan are free of charge).

While not a perfect system, the health system in Portugal provides high quality medical service to all. Coincidentally, the majority of doctors have good knowledge of English since most medical textbooks in Portuguese Medical Schools are in English.

This is the final article in the series.

By Dennis Swing Greene|| [email protected]

Dennis Swing Greene is Chairman and International Tax Consultant for euroFINESCO s.a.