The Italian Health System
Italy has a wide-covering health system, but unfortunately in many areas it is somewhat overextended. That means that you will be facing potentially long waits when you go to your doctor, hospital stays can be in overcrowded rooms (or worse, out in the hallway until a bed is available), etc. Everyone has access, and it is "free". However, it is still necessary to register for the national health insurance service. For Italian citizens, it is required by law. For EU citizens on a temporary stay in Italy, health services are guaranteed. In such a case it is enough to present the E111 form from your country of origin. They must register to the SSN once they have applied for a residency..For non-EU citizens, it's still a good idea to get it even if you have full medical insurance coverage- for getting sick leave certificates, prescriptions, and if for no other reason because you will need it when you apply to renew your permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay). As a foreigner, you will be entitled to be admitted into the public health service if you fulfill one of the following conditions:
- you are an employee or independent worker
- you are unemployed and registered with the unemployment office
- you are a non-Eu citizen that possesses or has applied for a permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) for family reasons, for political asylum, for humanitarian asylum, for adoption, or to acquire Italian citizenship.
- Are a legal resident of the area (must apply for residence)
When you register, you will be able to choose your "official" doctor from a list of doctors in your area. For children under six, the "official" doctor will be a pediatrician. This is the doctor that the Italian Health System will expect you to go to for anything and everything - if necessary, it will be he that fowards you on to the relevant specialists (again, assuming you go only the "public route". Registering is relatively simple: you go to your local ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale) and fill out a form, pick a doctor, and they will give you a little brown document that shows that you are registered, and who is your chosen doctor. To register, you need the following documentation:
- Proof of ID (copy of passport is always good - or if you have it, your carta d'Identita')
- Permesso di Soggiorno (permit to stay) (or receipt document showing that your application for a residency permit has been received and is being processed.
- Proof of residency (carta d'identita' or certificato di residenza