i. Hospitals and consultations in Lisbon
- In the event of an emergency, you will always be accepted in a public hospital, regardless of you having any kind of health card.
- Upon arrival, you will be given a bracelet of a different color (green, yellow or red) depending on the gravity of the issue.
- Emergency consultations are paid for, and medical tests needed for a diagnosis (i.e. X-rays, ecographies, blood tests) as well.
Even for people in the Social Security system or EHC holders, medical consultations (and medical tests) are paid for. Prices range from 5€ on a public consultation, to 80€ or more for specialists like dentists.
Price, however, is often counter-balanced by the fact that non-urgent consultations in the public medical system, have long waiting lists (+1 month sometimes), particularly for specialists (i.e. dentist, oculist, etc).
If you need a general consultation for an issue that does not require inmediate caring, you may end up waiting a few hours in the emergency room. To sum it up: to use the public hospitals is cheaper, but it takes longer.
Because of this, people turn to private centers for specific consultations.
Many private hospitals & medical clinics have their prices online, and it is also possible to book an appointment online or have an estimate of the waiting list.
Private Hospitals in Lisbon:
- Hospital da Luz (site in English)
- CUF Alvalade
- CUF Descobertas (Oriente)
- CUF Infante Santo (Alcântara)
- CUF Belêm Clínica
- CUF Cascais Hospital
- Hospital S. José (Martim Moniz, open 24h)
- Hospital Dona Estefânia (Anjos, open 24h)
- Hospital Curry Cabral (Campo Pequeno)
ii. Health insurances
If you are coming to Portugal for a stay longer than a few days, you should have some kind of personal medical coverage, be it public or private. Some exchange programs may already provide you with a medical insurance. European Union citizens are entitled to ask for a European Health Card. Students from other countries should check with their university and Health autorities to figure out the best options regarding healthcare.
a. Medical coverage & insurance
- European Union citizens or permanent residents: The easiest option if you are on your country's national healthcare system is to apply for a European Health Insurance Card. Applying for this card is normally free, and it should cover the time of your non-permanent stay. If you are from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you can also request an EHIC. Remember that this card is only valid for public hospitals and health centers. More information here.
If you are not from a European Union country: check your Goverment's Healthcare site or ask in the nearest health center for info on any agreements for medical coverage in Portugal.
- There are also many private health insurance options available in the market. Check if your sending university offers some insurance package for students (normally they have reduced fares.) If you are currently insured, check if your company offers overseas medical coverage. Some study abroad programs will include insurance with medical costs included in Portuguese consultations they have an agreement with.
Whatever your situation is, make sure you know about your insurance status is before coming to Portugal!
b. Portuguese Health System
The public health system in Portugal is universal but it is paid for. However, you can get discounts on the medical and examination fees if you have a European Health Card, you have been living in Lisbon for over 90 days or you join the Portuguese Social Security system.
- European Card Holders: you have the right to receive the same medical treatments as a national. Because medical fees in Portugal are paid for, it may be possible for you to ask your country for a reimbursement after (check your country's policy on this).
- Foreigners without EHC: If you have been living in Portugal for over 90 days, you can ask at your closest Junta de Freguesia (local council) for a document certifying your residence status. You will need to get two Portuguese people living also in the Freguesia to sign the paper with you, as proof of this (you can ask your landlord or some Portuguese flatmates). After, you will be able to sign up in the closest health center in your area and will be given a Número de Utente (User number), so you will also have discounted medical fees.
- Foreigners that start working in Portugal will automatically be signed up in the social security system, meaning you will qualify for medical coverage in public hospitals as well. You company may also have arrangements with private clinics. In any case they should inform you about it.
Important: Scheduled medical appointments in the public Portuguese system take a long time because of the large waiting lists (+1 month or more). This means, in practice, that if you have a non-urgent medical issue or you have to see a specialist, the fastest solution is often to go to a private consultation (sorry!). However, it is still good to get a European Health Card if you can, because you will pay less if you go to the public emergency room and for medicines.
Pharmacies are spread all around the city. Some of them are open 24h, and some of them have an extended schedule, so they are open until 9PM. The rest may have variable schedules, but the non-24h take turns to open at night also. Things to know:
- All medicines in Portugal are paid for, even for social security and European Health Card holders.
- However, if you are an European Health Card holder and you have a prescription, you will only pay part of the price in some medicines.
- Pharmacies in Portugal won’t sell antibiotics or some types of sleeping pills without a recent prescription.
- Pharmacies may charge a night service fee.
Check what Pharmacies are currently open in Lisbon (city) in this list: