Health Matters

Algarve Life - Amanda Gleaves
3 min readMay 4, 2023


“Tem Cartão Continente?”

Two months ago I was given some paperwork to schedule some routine test. Ultrasounds to be more precise.

I normally go to Fernando Sancho in Faro as they are pretty efficient. I called them up and tried to schedule the tests, only to be told that they didn’t have their “agenda aberta” and that I couldn’t.

Now this always frustrates the hell out of me. It is always the same story, I mean, what does that even mean?

Well, “Agenda aberta” actually means “open agenda” in Portuguese. It refers to a calendar or schedule that does not have any scheduled events or meetings at a specific time, and therefore is not available for scheduling new meetings or events. (if you read that out loud, take a deep breath).

Frustrating! Can’t they just…schedule them?

I asked when the agenda would be open and was told that they didn’t know. The only way to schedule the tests would be to call every day, or go to the website. I went to the website several times with no luck. It was frustrating having to put all the information into the online form, every time, just to arrive at the page where the ‘computer says no’…I tried calling a few times too, but got the same response every time. So rather that letting it get me frustrated and angry I just went on about my days and forgot about it about it all.

Until I got the paperwork to go and do have MRI, about a week ago.

I called Fernando Sancho and was told they no longer do MRIs . They recommended Gambelas. I know for a fact that Gambelas would be a lot more expensive, MRIs were only 105€ at Fernando’s, what happened??

I asked for other alternatives. I wasn’t given any.

So I decided to call Clinica São Francisco in Faro. I found out that they charge 220€ per MRI — a bit steep! But it has to be done, so I scheduled it for 3rd May. I thought that maybe I could schedule the Ultrasounds too, but they said that their agenda was full and the new one would be open at the beginning of May. (Grrrrr)

A few days later….

So today I set off for my MRI appointment and took along the paperwork to schedule the Ultrasounds.

All the places were filled already! The nice lady told me that I could get them done privately though and it would cost 150€ for the 3 of them.

Then she asked if I have insurance. Well, I don’t. I have lived in Portugal and use the health system, just like so many people here. I can’t really afford Health Insurance. 🙄 I pay my national insurance contributions though — to the state.

Then she said something that really surprised me.

“Tem cartão Continente?”

For a minute there I thought I might actually be in the supermarket hallucinating! Did she just ask if I have a Continente Card from the supermarket?

She did indeed, and she told me that I could get a substancial discount for the Ultrasounds, not on the MRI though. (typical)

I got my card out faster than you could say “Quer número de contribuinte na fatura” and gave it to her.

By doing this I saved 50€!

I thought that this was well worthy of a write up as many people may not be aware of it. Find out more here

Health insurance can be expensive and many people, like me, can’t really afford it and need to go through the National Health system. This discount can make a big difference to a family so be sure to tell your friends.

Stay Healthy and até amanhã, se Deus quiser!



Algarve Life - Amanda Gleaves

I have been living in the Algarve in Portugal since 1989! I have been teaching Portuguese to foreigners for nearly 20 years!