The 2024 Annual Global Retirement Index, published by International Living, reinforces the excellence of the Portuguese healthcare system, ranking it first in the healthcare category and second overall, just behind Costa Rica, the overall winner.

Moreover, Portugal stands out for its proficiency in the English language, especially among healthcare professionals. This competence enhances the country’s attractiveness, ensuring that healthcare services are easily accessible to foreigners, fostering a more inclusive environment.

Established in 1979 and funded by taxpayers, the NHS is available to Portuguese citizens and Permanent Residents in Portugal (mainland). This system is widely recognized for its financial accessibility, often being low-cost or even free in many situations: the amount to be paid in a public hospital is referred to as a moderate fee, applicable only in emergency services when users do not have a prior referral from the National Health Service or are not admitted after emergency care.

Although fees are charged to users in some situations, exemptions are important to note:

  1. Pregnant and parturient women.
  2. Children up to 12 years old, inclusive.
  3. Users with a degree of disability equal to or greater than 60%.
  4. Blood donors.
  5. Living donors of cells, tissues, and organs.
  6. Transplanted patients.
  7. Firefighters.
  8. Military personnel.
  9. Former military members of the Armed Forces with permanent disability due to military service.
  10. People with proven economic difficulties.

In the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira, separate Regional Health Services (RHS) have been established, managed by their respective regional governments, distinct from the National Health Service.

Despite the NHS being an attractive option, many foreigners prefer to subscribe to private health insurance. Plans vary depending on age, pre-existing conditions, and coverage levels. Despite the need for upfront payment for medical services with subsequent reimbursement, foreigners consider this system efficient and economically viable, as the standard plan values are still considered affordable for most. The cost of a health plan is approximately around €50 per month, covering a wide range of healthcare services for most families.

Immigration Department

Patrícia Valadas Coriel | Cláudia Cardoso | Inês Azevedo Duarte