FAQ about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Italy
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN)?
- What is Tessera Sanitaria?
- How do I find the best hospitals in Italy for cancer treatment?
Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) is the national healthcare system in Italy. According to the Italian government, "Foreign citizens [non-EU] with regular stay permit and their regularly staying dependent family members are entitled to registration with the National Health Service and to the same treatment as Italian citizens with reference to contributory burden and the health care provided." For information about obtaining residency in Italy, see our article, 7 Tips for Obtaining Residency in Italy.
When you apply for residency, you should be given the paperwork to apply for your Tessera Sanitaria, which is the healthcare card that gives you access to Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN).
Tessera Sanitaria or Carta Sanitaria is the Italian healthcare card that is required when using the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale. Once you obtain your Permesso di Soggiorno, or residency permit, you may apply for the Tessera Sanitaria.
"You should have been given a paper when you applied for residency. If you bring that paper with you to the office of the Carta Sanitaria (Azienda Sanitaria Locale or ASL), they will start the process without you having the residency card. You should be able to get the Carta Sanitaria in that one visit. The same paper should be brought to the window of the stato civile with the italian style passport photos. The information should be already on their computer. Make sure you have a doctor selected so that it streamlines the process. Also, if you have special conditions like high BP, the doctor can right that up for you and you are then given a second booklet that provides extra payment for pharmaceuticals [lower costs to you]. Hope I was clear there.
For more information about applying for residency, read 7 Tips for Obtaining Residency in Italy.
For more information about Healthcare in Italy, read our article, 9 Healthcare & Health Insurance Tips for Expats in Italy.
In a discussion about the the best hospitals in Italy for cancer treatment, one member wrote, "After many visa problems, my husband and I have been very happily living in San Gemini (TR) in Umbria since mid-July. We just learned through a total body scan that my husband has pretty extensive prostate cancer metastases. Has anyone been through cancer treatment(s) here in Italy to recommend good, English speaking oncologists, radiologists, facilities? Thanks!"
One member replied, "you should probably stick to a fairly large hospital, i.e. in one of the larger cities, primarily because you need 1. an MD who speaks English and 2. a place where they are experts and see many such cases. Based on your location, I would shoot for either Florence or Rome. Arguably, the best onco care in Italy is available in Turin and/or Milan, but Florence and Rome both have excellent onco centres. Here is a site that rates Italian onco care centres for male repr. system cancers: http://www.corriere.it/salute/sportello_cancro/db/mdc/tutte/2014/mdc12.shtml. The list is in Italian, but you can see the names of the centres and where they are located."
The woman posted an update, "So far, the care and attention he's getting in Terni, close to where we live, has been excellent. They have a team of oncologists and radiologists who confer weekly about cases, and so he is on a plan now."
In another discussion one expat wrote, "Another recent firsthand medical experience: Miulli Hopsital, Acquaviva delle Fonti, Puglia. State financed hospital, but run by the Vatican (the patient's religious affiliation is irrelevant and it's not staffed by nuns if that makes a difference). This hospital is also state-of-the-art and was built 12 years ago. It enjoys an excellent reputation in this region. If you are an expat you may get some extra attention -- at least that's how it felt to me. Everyone was very accommodating and welcoming and I got a little more help when they realized my Italian wasn't up to technical medical terms. I had a radical prostatectomy to address cancer in the organ. The surgeon specialized in robotic surgery which is the preferred method in the US. My surgeon also trains doctors in the procedure at hospitals all over Italy and Europe. My surgery went very well and my follow up indicated there is no cancer remaining in my body. I am confident that my care was as good as say, Mass General (where my brother had the same operation) or Beth Israel Hospital in my native Boston. Go to the websites of the Miulli Hospital in Acquaviva delle Fonti or Villa Lucia in Conversano. These two facilities would compete well with any hospital in the north of Italy."
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