Healthcare more expensive from August

HEALTHCARE WILL become more expensive from August 1, when a new table of charges comes into force from the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS), the national health service. For now though, the fees paid by patients will remain the same, the increased charges, which in some cases will be triple the existing amount, being supported by the health sub-systems such as Segurança Social (social security) and the Direcção-Geral de Protecção Social aos Funcionários e Agentes da Administração Pública (an organisation which represents the health interests of civil servants), and by insurance companies, among others.

The Ministry for Health, that recently published the new price table in Diário da República, has justified the rise in charges due to the fact that, “new technology costs money to implement, and there is a discrepancy between the real costs involved and the existing charges.”

So, as from next month, more will be charged to the health sub-systems for each appointment at a public hospital or health centre; for each exam, X ray and clinical test, operation and so on. Although the general public will not feel this in their pockets now, it is likely to happen sooner or later.  

Those with health insurance policies who suffer an unexpected illness or who are injured in a car accident, may see their benefits reduced in terms of medical care at public hospitals and premiums will rise – this is the belief of Manuel Delgado, president of the Associação Portuguesa de Administradores Hospitalares and managing director of the Pulido Valente hospital in Lisbon. “It is probable that the insurance companies will change the criteria and become more strict in order to control access to health care,” he said.