One thing people don’t often realize after they move and immigrate to Portugal is this – when you return to the United States for a visit, you need to have some sort of emergency medical insurance because as we all know TOO WELL, healthcare in America ain’t free!

I remember when I was in my 20’s living in Italy that a friend of mine who didn’t have health insurance yet in Italy got in a bad accident, was taken to the emergency room by ambulance and not only didn’t have to pay for the ambulance, she didn’t have to pay for any of the care at the hospital! She walked out after a few days in the hospital without a bill or having to pay for treatment on the spot. That was the first time the difference in health care systems became extraordinarily clear to me.

Now, I don’t know that still happens in Italy but I know it doesn’t happen EVER in the United States. So, if you’ve become a resident of Portugal and are covered by the extremely affordable private health care insurance here or the almost free public, SNS, healthcare and you’re not old enough to be eligible for medical care, you’re likely not covered in the United States if you travel there.

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that you no longer have health insurance in America once you stop paying for it since you don’t need it in your daily life in Portugal. So, if you find yourself in this position, you need to remember to make sure you have or get coverage before you travel back to the United States.

 Here are some ways to make sure you’re protected in the event of a medical emergency abroad.

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1. If you have private health insurance coverage in Portugal, you likely have travel insurance that includes emergency medical care while you’re abroad. Check with your private health insurance account manager and find out if and how much your coverage is. You’ll also want to confirm how you file a claim and how reimbursement works should you need to use it.

**Note: if your policy doesn’t already cover you when you travel, ask if you can upgrade it or add emergency medical to the policy.

2. Your credit card may provide medical coverage while traveling abroad. Many credit card companies these days are offering emergency medical care during travel as a perk for their cards. Go into your online account portal, most credit card companies have information on your card’s terms and perks there. Also check for other special travel privileges like airport lounge access or discounts on hotels, Ubers or car rentals and other types of transportation.

3. If you’re still paying for a AAA card, you may want to check with them as well, to see if you are covered in America as a resident of Portugal.

And for travel to Portugal from the U.S. or from Portugal back to America, our community members have recommended the following independant travel insurance agencies:

1. Roamright

2. World Nomads

3. Abbeygate Insurance

 Whether you’re traveling to Portugal or back to the States, it’s imperative that you have emergency medical insurance while you travel.

Safe travels, friends!