In Portugal there are free and paid medical care. Free medical care is available through state-funded national health service (SNS). There is no consensus about the quality of free Portuguese medicine, some are delighted and some are not, but it is certain that you will receive qualified medical help and emergency first aid will always be provided.
If the case is critical: a sudden illness, fever, seizure, someone fainted, consequences of an accident or a fight, you can call 112 and call an ambulance. Elementary English is understood by all dispatchers, if you don’t already know Portuguese. Usually, medical assistance arrives quickly on this phone number.
If you do not have an emergency, but need immediate assistance, it is worth calling saúde 24 at +351808242424, which also has an option to choose English. In case of an injury, you can drive yourself to any hospital, not necessarily your place of residence, explain the problem at the front desk (English is usually understood), then you will be given a wristband with your information and asked to wait for a doctor’s appointment. The color of the wristband determines the urgency of the request according to the registrar. A red wristband means very urgent, a yellow wristband means less urgent, and a green wristband means you have to wait longer for other urgent requests.
In order for a Ukrainian to qualify for free care in the country, you must obtain a National Health Service (NUS) identification number from the Office for Foreigners and Borders (SEF), you will need it during any registration.
You will also need your ID (passport), your NUS number, your permanent address of residence and your Portuguese telephone number at any health center for normal registration. If you don’t have these documents, you will have to pay for medical care.
Routine Medical Services
You can get routine medical services at any health center (centro de saúde). The medical center can be chosen according to personal preference, but it must be located in the region of your permanent residence. Do not confuse it with a hospital, they only provide emergency care and will refuse a regular appointment. The nearest medical center can be found on the SNS website at https://www.sns.gov.pt/sns/pesquisa-prestadores/. You can either come in person, pick up a voucher and access the front desk, or you can register online at https://servicos.min-saude.pt/utente/.
To see a doctor through SNS, you will need to take a coupon and then your number will be invited to the front desk, and at check-in you will be directed to an available doctor right away. Be prepared for a long wait, 20 minutes at best, but it could well be 1-1.5 hours. In some centro de saúde you can even get a Ukrainian doctor. For example, in one of the medical centers in Mafra (an hour away from Lisbon) Unidade de Sauda Mafra Norte there are even several Ukrainian doctors.
Also, anyone who wants to count on regular medical care should register with a family doctor (medico de familia). Family doctors are assigned by the Centro de Saude and this process can take a very long time. However you will not be denied medical care if you do not yet have your family doctor. The main thing is to accurately describe the problem at the registration desk.
The doctor will determine your treatment plan and may send you to see a specialist. Drugs that the doctor prescribes can be purchased at any pharmacy with a discount of up to 95%.
Please note that if you need the services of a nurse (dressings, injections, etc.), you do not go to the hospital, they will not receive you, but to the centro de saúde.
Help for people who have a temporary protection in Portugal
Ukrainians can also count on assistance, which is provided as unprotected populations. Right now there is a current joint program between the insurance company FIDELIDADE and the Catholic refugee organization JRS – Serviço Jesuíta aos Refugiados. They have launched a telephone support line for the Ukrainian population who have found asylum in Portugal. The service is available exclusively in Ukrainian. The phone line +351214238426 is available on weekdays from 08:00 to 20:00. The purpose of this service is to give general advice to Ukrainians arriving in Portugal. They provide a variety of assistance, including medical assistance. The insurance, as part of the health insurance Multicare, is ready to cover the services of a doctor without charge up to 240 euros. For this, you have to make an appointment by phone at the JRS center, with an appointment time and date in advance. After the appointment, a consultant will advise you, if there is a medical need, which hospital (Hospital da Luz) and which doctor to contact.
Every Centro de Saude has a dental office where you can get urgent treatment free of charge. If state clinics embarrass you, there are also private clinics, which volunteer to provide free urgent dental care to Ukrainians with temporary protection (chipped tooth, pulled tooth). You can request a list of clinics by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org . Please note that only urgent cases are considered, other dental services (fillings, cleanings, crowns, braces, etc.) will be charged.
Portugal, in terms of health care, can be considered a social country, so you will definitely get free care. Most doctors and medical personnel speak at least a minimum level of English, so in terms of basic communication should not be a problem. Follow health news in Portugal with Good Portugal and don’t get sick!