Healthcare System Information and Insurance Options for Expats Living in Italy

Italy’s healthcare system ranks second in the world, next only to France. The country’s outstanding healthcare facilities, as well as top-notch methods of diagnosis and treatment, are major reasons why the country’s citizens have 11th highest life expectancy in the world. Public health spending is more than 9% of the country’s GDP, which is more than most of the other developed countries.

Italy’s healthcare system is a mixed structure of public and private healthcare systems. The public healthcare system covers a majority of the share and is available to all Italian citizens and EU residents for free or at a very low cost. Those who can afford it can also go for private treatment that is costlier but offers better facilities and treatment too. Expats generally prefer to go for private treatment where available. However, since private facilities are costlier, they can buy international health insurance that can take care of those high costs.

Expats who are planning to move to Italy permanently can register with their area’s Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) after receiving their residence permit. This assures them to the assistance of a local doctor who can be reached any time you need him.

Overview of the Healthcare System in Italy

SSN is the official name of Italy’s national healthcare service, which gives citizens and residents access to free or low-cost healthcare services. This also covers access to general practitioners, subsidized medicines, treatment at public hospitals, ambulance services, specialist care, lab services, etc. Yet, despite being a socialized system, regional governments have more say on the system. This means that the standard of care varies for every region in Italy. It’s substantially high in Northern and Central Italy, while down South it’s not that effective yet.

The private healthcare system in Italy continues to lead the world by a margin. The doctors practicing at these facilities are some of the best in the world. Moreover, large urban centers have a significant number of specialists too, thereby ensuring optimum care of every patient who walks into a private hospital. The charges are high, which is why most people buy insurance in advance to effectively deal with all unplanned medical expenses later on.

How the Italian Healthcare System Works for Expats

Expats prefer private facilities more because they offer better treatment and do not have long queues and complications that are rather common in public hospitals. Having said that, private healthcare can be very costly, which is why it’s always recommended to have international health insurance to manage huge medical bills. EU expats can access the SSN benefits using their European Health Insurance Card, free of charge. Non-EU expats have to gain their full residency permit first before they can avail SSN benefits like Italian citizens and EU migrants.

Pharmacies in Italy

The Italian healthcare system permits everyone to obtain medicines prescribed by doctors either for free or at highly subsidized rates. This does not apply to non-prescribed over-the-counter medicines, which have to be paid for in full.

Necessary Insurance Paperwork for Expats

Before moving to Italy, expats have to buy a health insurance plan. This is mostly because the public healthcare system is accessible by citizens and EU migrants for free, but not entirely so for non-EU expats. In addition to that, you will need the following documents:

  • An up-to-date passport
  • A valid visa
  • Photocopies of the above two documents
  • If you intend to stay for more than 5 years, you need to obtain ‘Permesso di Soggiorno per Soggiornanti di Lungo Periodo’, or else you will need the Permesso di Soggiorno’ permit.
  • International personal property insurance to safeguard your luggage and other stuff against any financial loss

Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Italy

As an expat, you can make your stay in Italy convenient and secured by obtaining international health insurance from a secure insurance company. Some of the international insurance plans you can consider include Cigna Global, Allianz and  IMG. US expats can also consider GeoBlue Xplorer to be one of the best covers available for expats living in a different country. An international insurance plan also assures that expats can get health cover not just in their host country but also when they are traveling somewhere else. You must always put in a lot of research before finalizing the best insurance plan for you. Feel free to discuss your requirements with our staff – contact us today.