Review: National Health System in Portugal is for rich and poor

14 de February, 2019

Review: National Health System in Portugal is for rich and poor

Reading: 5 min

For those who emigrate from their country it is always important to understand how health works in the country of destination for better planning and use of the health service.

In the case of health systems, as in Brazil, in Portugal there is a parallel operation of both the public and private health systems. However, in terms of utilization, both rich and poor use the public system for its quality and professional excellence.

The following explains how the healthcare system works in Portugal, with tips that can make it easier to use and that are important to understand how it works.

National Health System (NHS)

The creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1979 marked the beginning of a Portuguese national health system whose main function is to ensure the right to health (promotion, prevention and surveillance) to all citizens in a universal, comprehensive and equitable manner.

To understand it, first deconstruct what you know about the Brazilian SUS, and here are the main reasons:

  • In spite of being very similar in philosophy, in terms of quality the SNS is washed in our “poor” SUS;
  • For the users, forget about the absolute gratuity of the services and the total lack of them. Yes, as a rule here we pay fees (“moderating fees”) for your use;
  • If you are a medical colleague, fall in love with the possibility of being able to work with good conditions to perform your functions and abilities, good complementary diagnostic means, materials and medicines.

Do you know how to apply fora medical degree in Portugal? Find out here.

1. The step-by-step healthcare system

If you have just arrived in Portugal it is important that you understand that the NHS works in stages, that is: it is not enough to want to have a gynecological consultation to do my annual screening, or ask for all the tests you order every year in Brazil, or go to the dermatologist because your skin is very damaged from the cold.

Take a deep breath and understand that it doesn’t work like that here!

This is because for all your requests to be taken care of by your “dear doctor assistant” (family doctor) you need a plausible reason to justify it.

It is a system where prevention and primary care work properly, first you will have a Family Doctor. He will be responsible for all his health care follow-up, only in the most serious situations or those of difficult resolution without a specific medical specialist will he be referred to a hospital to investigate and treat the pathology.

Medicine in Portugal: get to know the standardizing and edictal regulation of the University of Lisbon.

2. First of all: how do I register as a user?

First, you must register yourself in a Family Health Unit (also popularly called a Health Center), in your area of residence, preferably as a patient, only then will you have an associated health number called User Number. From then on, your family doctor will start the entire health care chain.

For this to happen, it is essential to have your PB4 in hand. This document already mentioned in previous article, know everything about it.

3. Family doctor, your best friend!

From the moment you become a user, you can make appointments locally in the Health Unit or through the NHS website: Yes baby, the technology for health!

In the part of the site that says citizen it is possible to register with your User Number and from there schedule queries from your own home and it is also possible to download the app, MySNS, on smartphones.

Consultations with the Family Physician at your Family Health Unit will cost €4.5 and it is there that you will have to update your vaccinations, make your screenings, such as cytological or mammography and also the follow-up of PSA, in the case of men.

Do you have the right to require Portuguese citizenship? Find out here and find out how to apply.

Even children and low-risk pregnant women will be followed by the Family Physician with a program well determined by the Directorate General of Health, both in terms of frequency and goals to be achieved by this special group of patients. Whenever you feel the need for health care, it is your GP who will be there to see you.

Examinations that are necessary up to the level of complexity of CT scans may be requested by the Family Physician. Thus, through agreements between the public and private sectors, the NHS is able to optimise the follow-up of various users still in primary care and minimise the need for hospital referrals and endless waiting lines.

I’ll give you an example:

Imagine that you have a family history of thyroid cancer and have a known lump, you will need a tighter follow-up right? Your Family Physician can ask for ultrasound and if you suspect a lump, you can even do a biopsy many times in private clinics connected to the NHS. This causes the waiting time to drop brutally and only after confirmation of any diagnosis of malignancy that is referred to the reference hospital.

It facilitates the user’s life, shortens waiting lines and makes it possible to make early diagnoses of malignancies, degenerative and autoimmune diseases that can still be treated without bringing many sequelae to the users.

How to become a doctor in Portugal: see the main steps and challenges.

4. Test results and request for chronic medication

Another very interesting strategy is the possibility of scheduling an appointment only to deliver test results, order some tests or request renewal of chronic use medication without the need for the physical presence of the patient at the site. It costs less (2,5€) and it is not necessary to wait for a consultation.

This is the great advantage of the Family Doctor: he knows you and your state of health. That’s why I say he can be your best friend and allied!

He will know that your sign (paints) that in the space of a year has changed color and is with weird characteristics, he will understand your family history without you having to repeat every time all your family history of disease, he will understand that you have different needs of other patients by the simple fact that he will follow you for several years.

Portuguese nationality or residence visa? See what is the best way to live legally in Portugal.

5. Hospital referral

As it has already been possible to understand the referral to hospital level is an advanced stage in the stages of public health follow-up. There are criteria that must have been met for possible referencing.

Exams must already have been performed and more basic exclusion diagnoses must have been excluded, and only then can the Family Doctor make a request to a reference hospital that has the desired specialty. Generally, you will be referred to the nearest hospital to the health center’s area of coverage, however, you have the right to choose the hospital you want to follow.

In order to obtain Portuguese nationality it is necessary to prove ties of effective connection with the Portuguese community, do you know how to do this? Find out in this article.

Article published on the Euro Tips website: https://www.eurodicas.com.br/sistema-nacional-de-saude-em-portugal/

Dr. Mariana Ramalho
Associate Medical Consultant



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