Public healthcare in Italy
The national health service in Italy, Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), provides residents with free or low-cost healthcare that includes access to general practitioners (GPs), treatment at public hospitals, subsidised medicines, lab services, ambulance services and certain specialist care.
Patients who make social security contributions may have to make copayments, but most of a medical bill is paid by the government.
The SSN is a socialised system, however regional governments are in charge of managing it on a provincial level, meaning that there are differences between regions. Usually hospitals in northern and central Italy offer a higher standard than those in the south.
How to apply for Italian health insurance
Foreigners who are EU nationals can take advantage of reciprocal health agreements which makes access to public healthcare in Italy easy.
Non-EU expats will, however, need to formally register for the SSN. Expats who have their residence status finalised and have an Italian identity card (carta d’identità) can then apply for an Italian health insurance card (tessera sanitaria).
In order to get a health card an expat should go to the nearest local health authority (Azienda Sanità Locale/ASL) and provide various documents: residence permit, official identification and proof of employment.
Expats who want to claim benefits for their families will require a family status certificate (certificato di stato di famiglia).
After registering, applicants have to choose a family doctor and a paediatrician for their children. They are then issued with their health card, which must be presented in order to receive care under the SSN.
Private healthcare in Italy
Although public healthcare in Italy is free, foreigners may choose to use private healthcare.
There are a number of excellent specialist facilities and university hospitals in the large urban centres.