How the italian national health system works

Article published in the magazine We Wealth of May 19, 2023

The Italian National Health System (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, SSN) is a comprehensive public healthcare system that provides a wide range of healthcare services to all residents in Italy, including Italian citizens and foreign nationals

The Italian National Health System (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, SSN) is a comprehensive public healthcare system that provides a wide range of healthcare services to all residents in Italy, including Italian citizens and foreign nationals. The SSN is administered by the Ministry of Health and is funded by the Italian government.
The SSN offers a broad spectrum of services, including primary care, hospital care, mental health care, and preventive services. For foreign citizens residing in Italy, the SSN offers many of the same services as it does for Italian citizens. However, access to some services may depend on their immigration status.
Foreign citizens must register with the SSN to receive healthcare services. To do so, they must provide:

  •     A valid passport or ID card.
  •     Proof of residence.
  •     Proof of income.
  •     Proof of a valid visa or residence permit.

Once registered, foreign citizens can access the medical services they need. However, it’s important to note that registration with the SSN may depend on the foreign citizen’s immigration status. For example, EU and non-EU citizens with long-term residence permits can register with the SSN under the same conditions as Italian citizens. In contrast, other non-EU citizens may be subject to different rules. The cost of medical care depends on the services needed. Some services are free, while others may require a copayment. Foreign citizens registered with the SSN are eligible for the same discounts as Italian citizens.

For those who prefer additional coverage or faster access to certain services, several insurance companies offer private health insurance packages for non-residents of Italy. Depending on your chosen package, these packages can cover routine medical bills, hospital treatment, and surgery. The SSN also provides access to emergency services. Everyone in Italy, regardless of their registration with the SSN or ability to pay, will be provided emergency care when required.

The SSN is a comprehensive system that provides quality healthcare for all residents in Italy, regardless of their nationality or background. Foreign citizens can rely on the SSN for the care they need. Some countries have entered into bilateral agreements with Italy to assist their citizens. These agreements cover emergency and non-emergency medical expenses, including hospital treatment and medicines. Countries with such agreements include Switzerland, San Marino, European Union countries, Tunisia, and Montenegro. However, the specific terms of these agreements can vary, so individuals should check the details relevant to their particular situation.
Additionally, Italy has reciprocity agreements with some non-European countries, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Argentina, which cover medical expenses for citizens of the two countries who travel to the other country for work or study.

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