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Guide to buying expat medical insurance in Portugal

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Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 19/04/2024, 22:15

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Are you an expat living in Portugal? Are you looking for a good medical insurance? This post will make the job easier for you and help you to choose the right one!

I have lived in Portugal for a couple of years now. During that time I have met a lot of people struggling to find the right insurance. If you work here and are employed, it’s simple – you just get the government care, which is very cheap, or free. Some companies provide health insurance as a benefit. However, if you are a freelancer, or if you want to have a piece of mind and require something extra, getting the right policy is crucial. It was hard for me to make the decision and I understand your position. I know that it’s tough to think of what to do.

If you are struggling to find the right medical insurance for expats in Portugal, this post will help you to make a decision. I have put together all I know about it and I hope that, after reading this post, you will find it easier to buy the policy, which is right for you.

Healthcare in Portugal – What to expect?

Healthcare in Portugal seems to be quite good. The nurses and doctors are well educated and the service you receive is on a good level.

Hospitals and surgeries are clean and well maintained.

In a case of an emergency you can go to a hospital. If you suffer from something that can be looked after at home, you can call a doctor to come to your house.

The problem is the waiting time at hospitals and surgeries. There are often huge queues and if you don’t have an appointment, you might wait for a long time.
Having your own GP is also an issue. In general, you should have one, but it seems to be impossible to have them assign one to you. That’s why, you are more likely to see a different doctor every time you come to the surgery.

If you pay your taxes in Portugal and have the tax number – NIF, then you are eligable for government care. This is not entirely free, but it’s much cheaper than the private insurance.
A house visit costs around 15 Euros and a visit at a doctor costs about 7 Euros. You also pay for medications. The price is reduced, but you need to cover the cost from your own pocket.

What options of healthcare do you have?

There are three options you may have in Portugal when it comes to healthcare.

Government insurance

If you pay taxes here and you have a NIF, then you can use the government care. As I said before, this is not always free and you are expected to cover some part of the costs.

Insurance provided by your company

Your company may pay for your insurance. In this case, you get a policy number and contact for your insurer and you will have to call them to make appointments or make a claim.

Private medical insurance bought by you

You may choose your own medical insurance, which is always a good idea, if you have a budget for it.
And this the option, which we will look into a little bit more.

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    Buying your private medical insurance in Portugal – What to look out for?

    There are a few things to remember about when you look for the right policy. Here are the most important ones.

    Is it a cover only for Portugal?

    Buying insurance for Portugal only is always cheaper. The cost reduces significantly. If you travel a lot to other countries, you can always buy travel insurance when you go away.
    I use Cigna, which covers me for Portugal and Poland, which is my country of birth. For the other countries, I buy SafetyWing, if I need to.

    What is the excess?

    Excess is the amount of money you will have to pay when you make a claim. For example, if your excess is 50 Euros and your medical bill is 100 Euros, you cover half of it and the other half is paid by insurance.
    The higher the excess, the lower the cost of policy.
    I think it’s good to have a high excess if you are young and healthy as you are more certain that you won’t need to make any claims.

    What is covered?

    Medical policies are divided into main categories – outpatient care (when you come for a check up, or have the flu and come to see your GP and inpatient care (when you need to stay in the hospital).
    If you want those two options, your policy will be quite expensive.
    I’d suggest that if you don’t have any health problems, go for the inpatient care only and cover the outpatient costs by yourself.

    There are also some extra options, like cost of labour, maternity leave, dentist care and so on. The more options you add to the policy, the more expensive it will get.

    How much you are covered for?

    Check how much the insurance will cover in case you get sick. The higher amount, the better. Remember that healthcare in Portugal is quite expensive.

    Your age and pre-existing conditions

    Older people and those with health issues always pay more.

    The best private medical insurance in Portugal

    Here are a few options of private medical insurance in Portugal, which I recommend.

    International health insurance companies

    First, let’s have a look at the international companies. All of them provide medical cover for Portugal as well as other countries.

    Cigna

    I have used Cigna on and off for quite some time. Every time I stop the cover, I go back to them. I value the customer service, which is excellent, and the price, which is affordable for what they offer.
    Recently I have chosen a cover for Portugal and Poland. I have inpatient and outpatient care with 2,000 Euros excess. I also have an annual check up, some extra tests and vaccinations.
    The cover costs me 1,000 Euros per year.

    AXA

    AXA is one of the most well known insurance companies on the market. It offers comprehensive cover. However, from my experience it is rather pricey. I have never used it, but I’m sure that it has great customer service (for that price, it must have one).

    Website: AXA

    Moving to Portugal? Bordr.io takes care of all the paperwork, so you can focus on enjoying your new life. Get your NIF, open a bank account, file your tax return and more, all in one place.

    Learn more and get started today

    Bupa

    If you are from the UK, you probably know Bupa and you’ve heard about it a lot before. This company is reliable, but also quite expensive. They insure people living all around the world and have a good reputation for being caring and having good and fast customer service.

    Website: Bupa

    Insurance companies based in Portugal

    If you want to be covered only in Portugal and save some money, they you have a couple of options to choose from.
    Here are the most well known insurance companies.

    The cost of the insurance varies between 500 and 1,000 Euros per year. It all depends on your age and your pre-existing conditions.

    Médis

    Médis has over 20 years of experience in selling health insurance. It provides a wide variety of products for individuals, families and companies. Dental care is included in policies.
    You can join the insurance before 65 years old. If you join before that, there is no limit of age. For over 65s there is a special insurance policy.

    Website (in Portuguese): Médis

    Multicare

    There are a few options to choose from, like a policy for a basic care, visits to the doctor and basic consultations, or something a bit more complicated, such as oncology tests and surgeries. I tried one simulation and for the basic cover I’d need to pay only 200 Euros. It seems that this is a very good value for money.

    Website (in Portuguese): Multicare