Private health sector generated  700 million euros in profit

Despite the economic crisis, profits generated by Portugal’s four main private health groups soared 42.5 per cent to 700 million euros in 2009.

The increase in demand for private health packages from companies like Mello Saúde, Espírito Santo Saúde, the Trofa group and Hospitais Privados de Portugal (HPP group) is said to be due to the fact that more and more Portuguese are taking out private health insurance schemes.

The Mello Saúde group, for example, increased turnover by 20 to 30 per cent last year worth 266 million euros, while Espírito Santo Saúde saw its turnover increase by 19 per cent to 219 million euros.

Private hospitals such as the HPP group saw their incomes soar to 150 million euros while the Trofa group increased its business by 47.5 per cent to 59 million euros.

The private sector also beat all records in terms of clinical consultations, which rocketed to 2.2 million, and surgery, which shot up to 73,000.

Constantino Sakellarides, Director of the National Public Health School, warned that the explosion in private health meant that the Portuguese National Health system was losing doctors to that sector and creating a two-tiered system for those who had means and those who didn’t.