Intercultural encounters, language learning, culinary discoveries and self-improvement. Alongst all the things that an Erasmus experience can bring, sometimes a few health glitches come along to dampen the mood. While everything seems so simple in our country, foreign health systems can be discouraging. As an Erasmus in Lisbon you don’t know where to go for treatment, you don’t want to wait too long, or spend too much money? We are going to explain everything to you – follow the guide!
The SNS aka health insurance in Portugal
The health care system in Portugal is managed by the SNS (National Health System). It allows you to benefit from the same rights as the Portuguese in the public health sector: local health centres and public hospitals.
You have two options:
- If affiliated to the SNS: the steps
1. In Portugal: go to the loja do cidadão (citizen’s bureau) or directly to social security to apply for your registration to the Portuguese health system (Cartão de utente do Sistema Nacional de Saúde). In this case, you will be asked this documents:
- Identification document (passport, identity card, residence permit)
- Certificate of residence
- Form E121/S1
Directly at a service point (by appointment) or call : 300 502 502.
- If not affiliated to the SNS:
As a European Erasmus in Lisbon, you can receive health care before you have your SNS number, by presenting the European Social Insurance Card (EHIC). In some cases, the reception of the establishment will create the SNS directly for you. The EHIC is valid for two years and must be applied for at least 20 days before departure.
Public health institutions: If you have the time but not the budget
Go to the health centres or “centros de saude”. These local branches of the Portuguese health system are present in every district of the city and are open to everyone for routine consultations or any other nursing care, vaccinations etc.
PLEASE NOTE: calls to Portuguese numbers are subject to a charge. If possible, you should go directly to the health centres.
Medical emergencies :
In case of emergency, Lisbon has several public hospitals:
- Hospital de São José – Rua José António Serrano, 1150-199 Lisboa
- Hospital de Santa Maria – Avenida Professor Egas Moniz, 1649-035 Lisboa
- Hospital de São Francisco Xavier – Estrada do Forte do Alto do Duque, 1449-005 Lisboa
- Hospital Santa Marta – Rua de Santa Marta, 1169-024 Lisboa
- Hospital de Egas Moniz -Rua da Junqueira, 126, 1349-019 Lisboa
- Hospital de Santo António dos Capuchos -Alameda Santo António dos Capuchos, 1169-050 Lisboa
There are dedicated emergency screening numbers that will allow you to be referred by professionals and to be given priority when you arrive at the hospital:
- 808 24 24 24: the SN 24, the Portuguese medical emergency number
- 112: the EU emergency number
Private healthcare : For those who prefer to be quick
General medical consultations:
As you will see, in the public sector, delays for consultations with specialists vary according to the degree of urgency and the specialty but can be very long. For this reason, those who can afford it regularly opt for the private sector. Although it is often more efficient, it is also more expensive.
Alegria: a good compromise
Payment and reimbursement
The level of reimbursement from the Portuguese compulsory health insurance scheme is excellent and the proportion that remains to be paid by an insured person is very low.
However, be sure to keep all your medical bills and reports so that you can submit them to your country’s social security system for possible reimbursement.
Medicines prescribed by the health centres can be bought in any pharmacy on presentation of the medical prescription. The State contributes between 15% and 90% of the cost of medicines which are on the official list of health services. Generic drugs are reimbursed an additional 10%.
Although financially advantageous, you have to be patient in order to get an appointment. For those who are impatient, the private option should be considered.
Private reimbursement :
You can be reimbursed for part of the cost of the consultation in the private sector, up to the cost of treatment in your country of origin. To do this, you will need to enclose the following documents:
- the original invoice for your treatment
- proof of payment
- the medical prescription relating to the treatment received
Other option: private insurance:
If you need specific and chronic health care, you can take out private insurance in Portugal. There are many options, depending on your needs. Find all our advice on how to subscribe to private health insurance in order to obtain coverage or reimbursement of medical expenses in the private sector.
You now have all the information you need to get medical treatment if you are an Erasmus in Lisbon and live your Lisboa Erasmus Life to the full.
Beijinhos, Dr Joy!