Private Health Insurance for Expats in Portugal
Insurance requirements for a D7 Visa application explained
Please note: I’m not an insurance expert and am just sharing what I know about health insurance for Portugal and what our experience has been. You should consult a health insurance professional for advice before making any purchase of private health insurance in Portugal.
Many people considering a move from the U.S. to Portugal get confused with the health insurance requirement when applying for a D7 resident visa. This article may help to clarify some of the confusion and is based on our personal experience only.
When you attend your appointment with VFS (or a consulate depending on where you reside) in the U.S. for your D7 resident visa, you will have to show proof of medical insurance. This can be done by purchasing a minimum of 4 months of travel insurance (check with your local VFS or consulate to verify the number of months required as this can change), with coverage that includes at least $30,000 per person in medical coverage plus repatriation and Covid coverage. Portugal must be a specified covered country and the policy should be in the names of all the parties covered (in our case husband and wife).
The policy does not need to have a start date effective on the date you attend your D7 visa appointment, but it does have to start on the date you expect to arrive in Portugal. So, for example, we purchased a 6-month travel/medical insurance policy in May 2021 and had our VFS appointments in San Francisco on June 2nd, but we made the policy have an effective date of August 28, 2021, since that was the expected date that we planned to arrive in Portugal.
Travel/medical policies vary and can be expensive, and the older you are, the more expensive it can be, so it is good to shop around at least 4-6 weeks prior to your visa appointment. Some resources that you can check out are marketplace sites that compare pricing and policies for several brands. Squaremouth is one resource and another is Aardy.
Other resources include:
VFS Global offers travel insurance with medical.
MedJet Assist offers a 1-year Expat plan.
GED Insurance located in Portugal may also be able to assist with a travel/medical plan.
If you’re concerned about risk, look for a policy that offers a cancel at any time clause. This means that if for some reason your application for residency is denied, you can cancel the policy (usually recovering only a partial refund) prior to going on the trip. The moment you get on the plane to Portugal, the cancel at any time clause becomes invalid.
Private Health Insurance After you arrive in Portugal
Once you have arrived in Portugal, you will have to obtain proof of private health insurance prior to your appointment with SEF. There are a variety of choices, but they narrow down considerably the older you are. Pre-existing health conditions can also narrow down the choices. After age 71, the choices are more sparse and more expensive.
Some health plans will not cover pre-existing conditions at all or will require a waiting period from 90 days to 365 days for coverage to begin. Pre-existing conditions are subjective meaning that what you may think is not a pre-existing condition may be one in Portugal. Shopping around and asking questions is key.
When you open a bank account in Portugal, some banks offer other products and services including health insurance. Millennium bank is one such bank that offers health insurance but only up to a certain age.
Three other resources (and the ones we used to get quotes) are:
All of these companies have English-speaking representatives.
What we purchased
After reviewing several policies and plans, we decided on a private health insurance plan with Allianz through Target Seguros (firstname.lastname@example.org). They work directly with AFPOP (Portugal Foreign Residents Association) to offer expats a choice of comprehensive group health insurance plans through Allianz Insurance. To access the plan through AFPOP you must agree to become a member (about $100.00 annually for a couple). Our policy is for older folks (Medal). We felt the coverage and options were the best for us, considering our ages at the time we applied (66 and 70). Our combined monthly premium for this plan is approximately $330.00 USD. For budgeting purposes, with this plan, you must pay the premium on an annual and not monthly basis (so, in January 2022, we will pay approximately $4,000.00 USD for the year). This is not the least expensive plan option offered by this company, but we wanted to try this out for a year to see if it’s beneficial or if another less expensive plan option would work.
Wrapping it up
Keep in mind that once you become a resident of Portugal, you can also access the public health system if you need it. The public health system in Portugal is good - but you may not have as many choices of providers and some surgeries are scheduled months in advance. Some expats combine private with public health insurance while others only use the private health system. I have been told that other expats only use the public health system once they become residents. However, as of this writing, you do need proof of a private health insurance policy for your SEF appointment.
Until next time…