Health Insurance for Foreigners Living in Italy
Italy’s public health insurance system is known as Sistema Sanitario Nazionale or “SSN”. It spends over 9% of its GDP on healthcare and it’s above average compared to other developed countries. This spending is credited with giving Italy one of the highest standards of healthcare in the world. In fact, WHO states that Italy has second best healthcare system. Therefore, it ranks 11th highest life expectancy and have very low levels of infant mortality.
Overview of the Italian National Health Insurance System
Healthcare in Italy has been provided through a mixed public and private structure. On the public side, the SSN provides free or very low-cost healthcare to the Italian citizens and non-Italian citizens.
- Cost of hospitalization and treatments
- Visits to family doctors and specialists
- Discounted medication,
- Laboratory services
- Ambulance services
The SSN is funded through a combination of income tax and government funding. Employees also contribute about 10% of their income to the SSN for their first €20,600 of annual income. Earnings over €20,600 are generally set at 4.6% of income. This applies for everyone that is working.
How can you register with the Italian public health system (SSN)?
In order to get the registration you have to visit to the local health care office, called the azienda sanitaria locale (ASL). It is located in most of the towns and cities in Italy.
Also at the ASL, you have to show your residence permit, or any other proof of it. It will not ask you for any other documents.
Once you register with the SSN, you will be given a card called a “tessera sanitaria,” and then you can choose a doctor.
How long you can be registered with the Italian public health care system?
You will stay registered with the SSN as long as you have a valid permesso di soggiorno.
How much does it cost in total?
In case you are an asylum-seeker, access to the Italian public health care system is completely free of charge, for a period that can vary from 2 months to 6 months.
This period is different in each ASL.
After this period, you have to pay a charge to access some health services.
Pros and Cons of Utilising the Italian SSN Health Insurance System
- Italy’s public health insurance program operates at a high standard and provides good value.
- Hospitals are clean, safe, and well staffed.
- From medications to doctors visits to diagnostic testing.
- The system is plagued by long waits for non-urgent specialist appointments.
- There is a sharp divide in the standards between Italy’s north and south.
- Also many facilities lack privacy and additional comforts.
- Some expats are thrilled with their experience with Italy’s health insurance system.
- A lot of their success and frustrations seem to lie in language barriers.
- If you have a local friend to support you is key until you get the hang of things.