I'd like to stay in the EU for some time, maybe get a residence permit if possible. The question is what are my healthcare options. As far as I know, citizens of EU countries can get public healthcare coverage. Can I get this by paying for it? Are there any alternatives for people with a residence permit yet without citizenship? Obviously, there's an option of travel insurance but I hope that for a longer stay there might be options with better or at least cheaper coverage.

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    This is country dependent, in the Netherlands every health insurance is a commercial one, in other countries there can be commercial as well as the national options. Or only the national option.
    – Willeke
    Jan 31, 2022 at 5:14
  • EU citizens don't require a residence permit. 3rd country nationals staying longer than 90 days require some form of residence permit and health insurance (it's not optional) and conditions vary from country to country. If you are allowed to work, the health insurance is a form of monthly contribution based on your earnings. Otherwise some form of contract with the insurer is required, without which a residence permit will not be granted. Details and conditions depend on the country in the EU for which the residence permit is granted. Jan 31, 2022 at 7:34
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    @MarkJohnson What makes you think there is a general EU health insurance mandate for third-country citizens?
    – Relaxed
    Jan 31, 2022 at 16:19
  • @Relaxed What make you think that 'and conditions vary from country to country' and 'Details and conditions depend on the country' imply that I think that 'there is a general EU health insurance mandate for third-country citizen'? Jan 31, 2022 at 16:57
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    @MarkJohnson Because you wrote “and health insurance (it's not optional)”. I did not understand “conditions vary” to imply the exact opposite of what you just wrote. You might as well write that you don't know anything if that's the case. In your mind, is it optional or not?
    – Relaxed
    Jan 31, 2022 at 17:30

2 Answers 2


That's not exactly the way it works, health insurance is typically based on residence or (mandatory) contributions. I have varying level of familiarity with the healthcare system in half-a-dozen EU countries and I do not know a single one that would offer free coverage to citizens qua citizens.

In some cases, living and working in a country would in fact provide you with (statutory) health insurance coverage. In others, having independent health insurance coverage is a requirement to get a residence permit in the first place. Citizenship, however seldom makes a huge difference (save for the fact you can always come back even in situation where you wouldn't qualify for a residence permit).


Yes - you can get on local health insurance in some countries in the EU. It is managed on a country-by-country basis. I know Switzerland, for one, would require foreign nationals who get residency to purchase a local health insurance plan (https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/versicherungen/krankenversicherung.html). I believe Portugal and Spain are the same. So it might be worth picking a few countries and researching if they allow foreign nationals residing in those countries to move onto their local national plans.

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