Highlights Series: Private and Public Healthcare in Ireland and Portugal Explained

The IPBN honed in on the big questions regarding health and wellness

In terms of helathcare system rankings across the globe, Portugal ranks number 12 and Ireland, number 19 based on the 2021 World Population’s Review. Both public healthcare systems offer essential medical services for little to no cost and non-essential services for a nominal co-payment. Whether or not ex-pats can use the public healthcare systems in either country will depend on residency status and nationality. Here are some details on this topic when it comes to the Portuguese SNS.

At the Algarve Special Webinar Event on May 11, moderator and IPBN Board member Carolyn McKeown of Shebang Events & PR Management shared her experience with the private Portuguese and Irish public healthcare systems after a double whammy of being diagnosed and treated for Crone's disease and finding and removing a tumor on her ovaries within a four-month period. 

Dr. Paulo Sousa, Clinical Director of the Hospital Particular do Algarve (HPA) further compared the private and public systems during the webinar. In an interview with the IPBN leading up to the event, Dr. Sousa said, “I moved 10 years ago into the private system because of the general inability to get things done. The inefficiencies mostly lie in how patients are treated because sometimes, access can be complicated.” To put it simply, Dr. Sousa believes that the national health system has a lot of inefficiencies that make it difficult for many to rely on.

During the virtual event, Desmond O’Neill from AllMarket highlighted Ireland’s General Medical Service (GMS) and how a patient’s income determines patient eligibility, prescription drugs, and access to hospitals. According to Dr. Shane Farrelly, CEO & Medical Director of SomarMed during the webinar, the Portuguese and Irish healthcare systems are quite similar in that, “If you are brought in as an emergency into the public system in Portugal, you’re really gonna get a good level of care just as you would in Ireland but…you have the option to go private…” He went on to say that rehabilitation services in Portugal are better, in his opinion, than they are in Ireland.  

To fill the gaps left by the Portuguese healthcare services both public and private, businesses like that of IPBN member company Serenity Portugal came along. In an interview with the IPBN, founding partners Michael Averbukh, MD MHA and Rita Matias described their tailor-made services as being built around five major pillars: assigned case managers, a 24/7 support line, service solutions through technology, a professional team, and logistical support. 

Averbukh explained, “I’m sure that when people look for solutions in healthcare, they look at the worst-case scenario— and for something like a liver transplant, with the healthcare in Portugal, you’re in luck. However, The person who needs a liver transplant is one in 100,00 or more. The people who need to ask a question about their prescription are like 90% of us. There’s no one you can go to to ask a simple question, or to ask for help getting to an appointment.”