CIGNA Expat Health Insurance Italy

Expat Health Insurance & Healthcare Guide to Italy

Expats share their experiences with healthcare and expat health insurance in Italy.

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5 Expat Moms Talk about Having a Baby in Italy

healthcare tips

5 expat moms offer candid insight into what it's like giving birth in Italy - from bringing towels and toilet paper with you to the hospital to being refused pain medication. And, like most advice in Italy, word of mouth is the best way to find a good OB/GYN.

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Betsy Burlingame, Expat Exchange

9 Healthcare & Health Insurance Tips for Expats in Italy

healthcare tips

Expats in Italy share tips and advice about healthcare and health insurance in Italy. Advice about finding an English-speaking doctor, using The Sistema Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) and more.

Written By

Betsy Burlingame, Expat Exchange
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Expat Health Insurance & Medical Care

Expat Health Insurance and Healthcare in Arezzo, Italy

Get established with a local doctor before you actually need one--you will need a primary car doctor to refer you to specialists.

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Expat Health Insurance & Medical Care

Expat Health Insurance and Healthcare in Italy


An expat in Italy discusses health care, pharmacies and health insurance costs. She explains that the cost of health insurance is nominal compared to the US and prescription medicine is very inexpensive.

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Having a Baby in Genova, Italy

One expat who had her baby in Genova, Italy shares her experiences with the hospital, pre-natal care and doctors in Genova.

Having a Baby in Rome, Italy

It was really positive experience. I gave birth to my daughter to one of the largest public hospitals of Rome - Gemelli and I definitely recommend it to everybody. It is free, delivery room is private and huge with a toilet and shower etc. There was 5 members of the staff with me, including 2 students on practice. Everyone was really nice, caring and professional. As I had a spontaneous birth-giving, I couldn't use any anesthesia, so no experience there. But a couple of weeks before, I had a meeting with anesthesiologist in the same hospital, signed all the papers, and had all things explained, really useful. Almost all doctors there are English-speaking, such a relief! The maternity rooms are semi-private, with a toilet and the shower, and the nursery is next-door. They taking the babies away only for the tests and for the night, from 12 till 6, but if you'll ask, the nurses will leave the baby with you the whole night. The nurses are professional and helpful, you can always ask for the help in changing, brest-feeding etc.

Having a Baby in Alghero, Italy

I gave birth in Ospedale Civile, it had been recommended to me by my gynecologist for having a low c-section outcome, other local hospitals are apparently quick to opt for them when a labour is progressing slowly.

It is an old hospital and I shared a room with 3 other women. The babies are kept in a nursery and brought to the Mums for feeding only. There were a number of shared bathrooms however they were all very shabby and small. I had to take my own toilet roll, cups, water but I knew this in advance.

I wanted a natural birth but presumed pain relief would have been available (after speaking to my mother in law), in fact they refused to give me anything despite being in labour for over 24hrs, I had been admitted as my baby was 10 days over due. Eventually a c section was required but I know for me there was no other option and the staff tried everything they could to deliver naturally.

Altogether I spent 6 days in hospital,because of being admitted, but normally only 4 days is required after a c section or 3 after a normal birth.

For me it wasn't a very positive experience, it was my first baby and I don't speak fluent Italian, when my labour started I wasn't moved to a private room, when the evening came my husband was told to go home and come back in the morning and that I should try to sleep which is not easy when you're having contractions every 5 minutes, they wouldn't break my waters until the morning which meant my labour progressed very slowly, the c section was fine, however my husband was not allowed to enter and when they took the baby out I wasn't allowed to see him so I had to wait a further 2 hours.

However, the gynecologists and midwives were all very nice and friendly but the nurses were brilliant.

Having a Baby in Vasto, Italy

The hospital in Vasto offers pre-birthing classes, which are useful for meeting other moms-to-be, and for getting used to the hospital scene. Not so useful for really preparing you for birth. Most of the GYNs are highly qualified and the Obstetricians seem to be more like nurses, however, there are a couple of gyns who are hideous and do not treat patients with respect or understanding. The hospital is trying to update some of their equipment, allowing water births and such, but the basic equipment (iv sack racks, beds, bathrooms, monitors for tracking baby's heartbeat, etc.) are really out-of-date. All the rooms are shared with another patient. If you happen to give birth during a slow time you can pay a small amount of € and have a whole room to yourself. Husbands don't spend the night, babies are all kept in the nursery (still in the 50's?). I had to argue and sign off to accept all responsibility to keep my baby in the room with me so I could nurse her at night. I did not get any reports about the baby's health. She had jaundice and they suspected it and didn't tell me. I was all packed and ready to check out of the hospital after 3 days and they told me to go ahead and go but they were keeping the baby! I flipped and ended up staying another 3 days. I was getting no rest because they had left me the baby and didn't give me any breaks. They are very noisy, about 5 different people pass through your room every day banging stuff and cleaning stuff. Then the nurses are all chatting loudly in the hall right after lunch when you are trying to fall asleep. And, yes, you have to bring your own tp, silverware, wipes, baby clothes, pads, towels, extra blankets and pillows if you want them, etc. Obviously there are no phones for patients to use, so bring a cell phone. Oh, yes, and no epidurals or pain killers unless you are having a c-section.

Having a Baby in Chieti, Italy

It was important for my Italian born husband to have our daughter born in his hometown so we stayed for 6 months (his mom and sister live there). This was my 4th baby, but my 1st in Italy. I packed for the hospital but didn't realize that I needed EVERYTHING, including toilet paper, soap, spoon, fork, cups, water. When I found out that I needed more necessities and didn't have a cell phone I was denied making 1 phone call to let my husband know what I needed, and the staff knew I didn't speak fluent Italian.

Also, they apparently do not believe in pain medication during labor in ANY form-I had 3 natural births but this labor was unbearably intense but I was told to deal with it. I ended up pregnant again this year, but chose to have my baby in the States this time (12-6-09). The hospitals in America are much more private-I had 2 other roommates and no privacy curtain in Italy, and also more luxurious. There wasn't even a shower in the room, only 1 communal one on the whole floor. I was happy that the doctors all spoke fluent English, and the food was very good.

Having a Baby in Verona, Italy

A clarification first, i gave birth in my own country. But arrived from the UK just few weeks before giving birth, so the whole experience was similar to the experience an expatriate would have (not the same of course, but close enough).

I gave birth in a public hospital.

I chose beforehand a midwife that would assist me through delivery, on top of the midewives that would have been doing their shift, I chose he through word of mouth.

I used no pain relief, but didn't want any,

I did suffer for few minutes but it was short and overall very good (happy to share how I prepared for the event, but it's a different story).

The delivery room was huge, about 6 times bigger than the delivery rooms I had seen in London, great!

I had problems with breastfeeding and found the hospital didn't offer much support, although Il Melograno (breastfeeding support org) and a pharmacy offered me great support. I eventually breastfed for 9 months, on a mixed regime.

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