In Portugal, healthcare needs are met by the National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde). The service provides healthcare through health centres and public hospitals.
To register with the SNS you should stop by the health centre in your area of residence once you have moved to Portugal. You should bring with you a valid identity document, a Portuguese social security beneficiary letter and a residence permit. The health centre will give you a SNS card under your name and assign you to a family doctor.
Those that have contributed to the Portuguese social security system may also register with the SNS. For those over the age of 65, there are also subsidized prescriptions available.
Public Health Centres (Centro Saude), provides family medicine, public healthcare, nursing, vaccinations and several diagnostic tests. Hospitals will provide specialised consultations and emergency care.
Once registered with the SNS, you will pay a small charge for each appointment or treatment you receive. A regular appointment at a health centre costs around EUR 5 and an emergency consultation in a hospital costs around EUR 20. If you do not qualify to register with the SNS, then you will have to use a private clinic.
The cost of medicine in most cases is partly subsidized by the state. Medicines which are vital for treating specific illnesses are usually covered. Prescription medicine is mostly sold at pharmacies which can be recognised by the green cross. Pharmacies can be found throughout the country and are usually open Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm and then again from 3pm to 7pm. On Saturdays they are only open in the morning.
In case of an emergency, remember that the number to dial is 112. Police, Fire Brigade, Ambulance.