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Healthcare in Madeira

The sunny island of Madeira lies 200 miles off the coast of North Africa, and is part of Portugal. Luckily for visitors from the rest of the EU – including British visitors – this means that state healthcare on Madeira can be used by anyone who has filled in the online application for an EHIC before leaving home. Getting an EHIC is free, but it might not cover you for the same range of circumstances as traditional travel insurance with added medical cover.

EHIC In Madeira

The Portuguese equivalent of the NHS is the Servicio Nacional da Saude (SNS). Look out for this organisation’s logo when you are trying to access a doctor or hospital, as your EHIC will only cover you for treatment by state providers. If in doubt, show your EHIC card and allow doctors or hospitals to take copies if they need to. On Madeira, the main hospitals are in the capital, Funchal, and this is where you will have to be treated if you are seriously ill or have an accident. Smaller towns and resorts have health centres which can deal with minor ailments and injuries. As in other parts of Portugal, there is a system of patient contribution when accessing state medical care. You will be expected to pay a small sum when seeing a doctor, undergoing tests in hospital or getting a prescription. You will not be able to claim these sums back using EHIC cover. In theory state funded dental care is also available, but in practice this is not always easy to access. Always get receipts and invoices for any treatment which you have. Most doctors in the main hospitals will speak reasonable English, but this cannot be guaranteed. A few words of Portuguese could make your stay in hospital much more pleasant.

Private Medicine in Madeira

If you have travel insurance which covers you for health related issues, then you may have the option of being treated privately in the state sector, or going to a private hospital. The advantages of this are that you can skip the queue and be treated far more quickly, and may be given a private room rather than being put on a shared ward. There are also several private hospitals on Madeira, some of which concentrate on the cosmetic surgery market, but all of which offer very good standards of care to UK visitors. If you wish to be treated as a private patient, make sure that your insurer agrees to meet the cost of your treatment before you admit yourself.

Having medical cover on your travel insurance also means you may be able to claim back any fees and charges you have to pay for state dental or medical treatment. Always keep invoices and receipts. In addition, travel insurance will meet the cost of flying you back home to complete your treatment in the UK, and additional costs such as mountain rescue. Make sure you are covered properly by disclosing any existing medical problems when applying for your insurance.