Since the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in Portugal, in 1979, dental care is neither provided nor funded by the NHS. Thus, most dental care is paid through out-of-pocket payments, either by patients themselves or through voluntary health insurance or health subsystems. In 2008 the government created the dental voucher targeting children, pregnant women, elderly who receive social benefits, and certain patient groups (HIV/AIDS patients and those who need early intervention due to oral cancer), to be used in private dentists who contracted with the programme. The reform was well received by the different stakeholders, especially dentists and beneficiaries, and the impact of the dental voucher in access and coverage of dental care in Portugal is positive: from May 2008 until December 2017, dental voucher reached 3.3 million NHS users in Portugal and dental care indicators have dramatically improved over the last ten years. Aiming to implement dental care provision within the NHS, the Ministry of Health has announced the foreseen integration of dentists in primary healthcare units, although the current budget constraints might hamper this possibility.
- Health policy
- Oral health
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being