Leaving everything behind to live on fresh water and sunshine in Italy is the dream of every expatriate looking for a better quality of life. Italy shines with its gastronomy, culture and history, which is why the Peninsula is naturally one of the most popular European destinations, along with Spain.
A successful expatriation to Italy requires an understanding of its healthcare system to determine if you will benefit from sufficient health coverage. Find out with Foyer Global Health about your healthcare rights, and the benefits of international health insurance in an expatriate context.
Italy, a country full of charm. Source: Pexels, @Chait Goli
Decoding the public health system in Italy
The national health system in Italy, the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale or SSN, provides universal coverage, mostly free of charge. It is financed by residents’ contributions through general taxation.
It is itself divided into regional agencies (Azienda Sanitaria Locale, or ASL) which provide access to public health services to all Italian residents. If you change your address of residence, you must register with the Local Health Agency of your new place of residence.
What does the SSN cover?
The health coverage offered by the SSN is similar to other traditional public health systems, i.e. it covers
General medical, gynaecological and maternity care, paediatrics
Hospital care in a public institution or in a private clinic under agreement
It also covers, with financial participation by the patient:
Treatment by approved specialists and dental care (if referred by the general practitioner)
Who is covered by the SSN?
All employees and self-employed persons are covered by the SSN. Self-employed persons, such as doctors, notaries or lawyers, are covered by specific funds according to their category. Students are not automatically registered but can apply to the SSN.
Finally, after three months of residence in Italy, you are obliged to register with the SSN.
How do I register with the Italian health system?
It is very simple: to benefit from the Italian public health insurance coverage, you just have to register with the Local Health Agency of your province of residence.
You will need to provide the following information: identity card, tax number and residence certificate. You will also be able to choose your doctor (which you can only change once a year).
Once this is done, you will receive your Tessera Sanitaria, the health insurance card in Italy.
How much does the Tessera Sanitaria cost?
Tessara Sanitaria, the italian health insurance card. Source: Wikipedia
The cost of receiving this card varies according to your situation and the category you fall into: compulsory or voluntary.
If you are an expatriate with a work contract in Italy, you will receive this card completely free of charge, as you are in the “compulsory” category
If you are a student, an au pair or a religious worker and stay in Italy for more than 90 days, you will be considered “voluntary” and will have to pay a fee ranging from €149 to €387 per year (depending on your situation and annual salary).
Why would you choose international health insurance in Italy?
The Italian health care system widens the already existing inequalities
As mentioned above, health insurance in Italy is managed regionally by the ASLs. This decentralisation unfortunately leads to disparities in terms of time, development and quality of care. Although the Ministry of Health has imposed a minimum level of care required across the country, there are still great inequalities between provinces, leading many southern Italians to travel to the north of the country for their care. This, however, costs them more: by choosing private sector specialists for better quality care, they face very high fees.
These inequalities are not surprising when one considers that the difference in income between an Italian in the North and an Italian in the South can double. The Mezzogiorno, marked by high unemployment and poverty, is struggling to catch up. Even more, as far as expatriation is concerned, the northern cities (Milan, Turin, Bolzano, Bologna) are gaining ground by being described as more pleasant and attractive to foreigners.
What are my options?
You have the choice of taking out local private health insurance, which is an interesting option if you visit a specialist who is not covered by a health insurance scheme. However, it is recommended that you also take out complementary health insurance to ensure that you are optimally covered. The delays are also longer, as access is more limited, and the high demand often means waiting several months for an appointment.
With an international health insurance, you will have a complete protection with all the advantages of a private insurance (shorter delays, better reimbursements), coupled with the advantages of an expatriate insurance, more adapted to your lifestyle. You will also benefit from personalised advice from expatriate insurance experts, who will be able to guide you through your specialist consultations or claims.
The benefits of Foyer Global Health international health insurance
Multiple levels of cover for the different needs of each family member
Medical and additional services designed for expatriates (teleconsultation, second medical opinion, travel insurance and security to come)
International coverage that covers you in Italy and anywhere else in the world, for travel and commuting
Multilingual medical assistance, available 24/7
The real added value of our insurance is that it covers your health expenses wherever you are in the world, guaranteeing the same level of cover as travel, expatriate and international insurance. An all-in-one package that will allow you to go abroad well prepared and in complete safety!