Italy's national health system is called the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) and provides inexpensive health care to all European citizens. Regardless of where you come from, it is imperative that you have health insurance as it is also required for issuance of a permesso di soggiorno.
If you get national medical insurance, you will be asked to select a doctor from a posted list, who will then have to prescribe medications and visits to specialists if you are to get them subsidized by the USSL (Unità Socio Sanitaria Locale).
If you are working in Italy, your employer will contribute to the national health insurance system for you. All you need to do is go to your nearest local health authority (Azienda Sanità Locale, or ASL) and register with a doctor with the health convention. (Detailed info is available in our Archives.) Once you are registered, you will receive a health number and health card (tessera sanitaria) and all visits to your family doctor will be free. He or she will then be able to issue you with any necessary prescriptions and referrals to specialists.
The Servizio Sanitario Nazionale provides medical and specialist treatment, hospitalization, visits to family doctors and prescribed medicines. All medications are divided into three categories: free of charge, charged at 50% of cost and charged at full cost. The standard prescription charge is less than 10 euros. Emergency health provision is available to all EU and non-EU visitors (you can go to the emergency section of a hospital free of charge.)
As other countires in Europe, Italy is facing difficulties in its national health budget and measures in controlling overspending might include the reintroduction of a copayment system for covering drug costs and a drop in the number of medicines that are free of charge.
Dental fees can be astronomical. The quality of service is generally good. In Italy, a doctor can practice dentistry, though the situation is changing towards greater specialization when universities started setting up dental faculties in 1980. When paying for dental services, remember to insist on an invoice, as dental expenses (like medical expenses) are tax-deductible within certain limits.
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Rome is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in Italy So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
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