Whether you are going to live or travel in our beautiful country or want to know more about healthcare in Italy, you will find this article useful.
The Italian healthcare system has been ranked second in the world by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020. The rating is based on equal access to medical care and health statistics such as life expectancy.
Italian citizens are, indeed, some of the healthiest in the world.
Italy is actually the second healthiest country in the world, according to Bloomberg Global Health Index.
Healthcare in Italy Overview
Under the Italian Constitution, health is a right of all.
Italy has a mixed public and private healthcare system.
But most of the private hospitals also operate in agreement with the Italian National Healthcare Service.
Every citizen can rely on the care of the National Health Service or those of private doctors, clinics, and hospitals.
Of course, the National Health Service is very affordable and in many cases is free.
A private physician, on the other hand, can ask for a much higher fee for a visit, from 50 to 300 euros. The same applies to diagnostic tests and surgical procedures. If done privately, it is advisable to have medical insurance; otherwise the cost can be very high (i.e., thousands of euros for a surgery).
The Italian National Healthcare System
The National Healthcare System in Italy is called “Servizio Sanitario Nazionale” (SSN).
The Italian National Healthcare Service aims to ensure universal access to health services for all citizens.
In Italy, there are no distinctions in terms of individual, social, and economic conditions. Citizens are required to pay a fee (“ticket”), which varies for each medical service and may be different from Region to Region. Some categories are exempt from payment, such as children up to 6 years of age, people over 65, and some patients with particular illnesses and forms of disability.
After the 2020 health reform, the exemption from paying the ticket was also extended to those on low incomes.
The State grants the level of care in the national health system. While each Italian Region manages the health care in full autonomy, using the local health companies (ASL).
However, in some cases, every citizen has the right to choose freely throughout the national territory, the service, or the healthcare facility to which he or she can rely on for treatment.
In Italy, every citizen is registered with the National Health Service and receives a health card with his tax number. This card gives him/her access to health services and is also used in pharmacies for the purchase of drugs.
Usually, the ticket, for those who are not exempt, has a maximum limit of €36.15. The National Health System bears the difference.
Access to first aid, code white, therefore for non-serious cases, also includes the payment of a fixed fee of 25 euros.
Even for specific medicines, known as Class A medicines, there is a symbolic ticket of 2 euros to pay, if you use the recipe provided by your doctor.
The National Healthcare System is financed through general taxes and direct revenues collected by local health authorities.
Also, immigrants who live legally in Italy have the right to have access to essential services such as emergencies, obligated vaccinations, etc., just joining the SSN.
Primary Care Physician (Family doctors – Medico di Base)
If you are an Italian citizen or a foreign citizen registered with the Italian National Health Service, you must also choose your Primary Care Physician.
These are doctors who work for the Italian National Health. They offer free consultations, can give you prescriptions for drugs or diagnostic tests.
Every general practitioner has his or her own office and determines the opening hours.
On the Commonwealth Fund website, you can find a very detailed description of the Italian Health Care System.
Healthcare in Italy. Why is it ranked so high?
Firstly, because, as we have said, health care is guaranteed to everybody, at very low prices.
The quality of healthcare facilities and doctors is also very high.
Below are some data from the Country Health Profile 2019.
A joint work of the OECD and the European Observatory on Health Systems and policies, in cooperation with the European Commission
Some essential elements emerge from this report:
- The number of Italian doctors is higher than the EU average
- Italy has the second-lowest preventable mortality rate in the EU.
- The rate of hospital admissions registered in Italy for chronic diseases such as asthma, pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive (COPD), and diabetes are among the lowest in the EU.
- Inpatient mortality rates in acute myocardial infarction are among the lowest in the EU.
- Survival rates five years after diagnosis for various tumors are higher than the EU average.
Italians also have a much healthier lifestyle and diet than the rest of the world.
We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and the obese rate is among the lowest in the world, only 10% of the population.
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The main institutions of the National Healthcare System in Italy
Istituto Superiore di Sanità (National Institute of Health)
INAIL – Istituto Nazionale Assicurazione Infortuni sul Lavoro (National institute for insurance against occupational accidents)
AGENAS Italian National Agency for Regional Healthcare Services
AIFA – Agenzia italiana del farmaco (Italian Medicines Agency)
Here you can find a list of the Best Italian Hospitals according to research made by Statista
Emergency Numbers in Italy
The general emergency number for police, fire, and other safety issues
Public interest phone number for Coronavirus - Covid-19