Health Insurance in Portugal for Foreigners (Expats)

03 February 2020

Health insurance is an important thing to get no matter what country you’re travelling to. If you’re already working and living in Portugal, you will usually be entitled to Portugal state healthcare with your own Portuguese health insurance card.

If not, it’s quite a simple process for expats to get their health insurance. Health insurance in Portugal has been rated #12 in terms of the best healthcare system by the World Health Organization.

The United Nations has even rated their healthcare system better than Germany and the UK’s! Therefore, you can be comfortable knowing that if for some reason, anything does happen, you will be treated with high-quality medical care.

Visiting Portugal from European Nations

Before travelling to Portugal, anyone living in European nations should get an EHIC card.

Most procedures and some medications are covered with this card, but not everything. It’s recommended to have this card, but not to stop there.


Anyone who lives in Portugal, even if you’re a foreigner, can join SNS (Serviço Nacional de Saúde). This is Portugal’s national health service.

With SNS, a little bit of money is taken each month from employees to fund this free healthcare system. One you join SNS, you will have a card to use.

This system is excellent in providing English speaking doctors. You won’t get to choose your practitioner; one will be assigned to you;

It’s recommended to look into private health insurance companies as well, just to be fully covered for everything while you’re there.

SNS is great for covering smaller health issues such as a cold, food poisoning, headaches, etc. If you are dealing with larger health conditions such as cancer or other diseases, it doesn’t provide enough coverage.

Short Term Travel Insurance

If you’re only going to be in Portugal for a little while, here are some short-term travel companies to look into. They offer a variety of travel insurance plans. The cost will vary depending on your age, health, medical history, and more.

These insurance companies include:

•    Bupa

•    AXA

•    Afpop

•    Cigna

•    SafetyWing


If you have an account with a Portuguese bank, it’s worth speaking to them about their health insurance options.

Most banks in the country have them, and they can be cheaper than other health insurance plans.

If you don’t have a Portuguese bank account yet, and need one, then check out this article here to learn more.

International Health Insurance

International health insurance could be a good option for those who truly live an expatriate lifestyle.

In some cases, it can be better than local health insurance, especially if you aren’t going to be in Portugal for too long. If you’re older, this could be a more affordable route to go down.

Most local private health insurance companies in the country will only insure you up to 55 years old, and it gets costly. International health insurance policies do provide more affordable coverage for the elderly.

International cover can insure you against any medical costs in Portugal and your home country. It can also insure medical evacuation costs, which can be extremely costly (thousands and thousands of dollars) if you aren’t insured.


We hope this article informed you of the basics of the Portuguese healthcare system. Now you have a few options to choose from when visiting this country as an expat (If you're going to Thailand, you can check out the best hospitals in Bangkok).