Healthcare in Italy
Italy has always enjoy recognition for its universal healthcare system.
World Health Organization (or WHO) reserved special praise for
Italy in 2000 when the country was just behind France in term of
implementation. The public system there is known as Servizio Sanitario
Nazionale (or SSN). This is a government funded program using tax money.
SSN came into existence in 1978 and it was modeled after the principles
of the healthcare system in UK.
In a nutshell, SSN enables a legislation that regulates 3
key sectors of public healthcare system, i.e. general practice
(including adult and
pediatric services), in- and out-patient treatments, and also the
costing structure of common
medicines and sanitary ware. SSN established Livelli essenziali di
assistenza or simply LEA in the same year, which describes a
“fundamental levels of care” so as to allow all its citizens to access
health care either at no charge or via a token fee commonly referred to
as a ticket.
The Italian government has always intended to make SSN inclusive, i.e. a system
where both citizens and
residents in Italy could benefit from.
One peculiar aspect about the system is that local physicians in
the country would receive payroll from SSN. This represents quite a
departure from commonly deployed western Healthcare models.
Local physicians are all accredited into a national register and
they are restricted by legislation to work on a 5 work-days week system
and individual physician would have no more than 1,500 patients. The
assignment of patients is the responsibility of SSN although that can be
exception, that is, if a patient finds any particular doctor assigned to
be not suitable to treat his current condition, a change of doctor is
allowed. As a matter of
course, the availability of the next doctor is subject to the guideline
There would be national subsidy for prescription drugs, with also a
co-payment arrangement, as the objective is to make sure that drug can
be procured at reasonable price. The co-payment arrangement will largely
be dependent on the medicine types as well as the income level of the
patients. It essentially
helps the poors to gain access to prescription drugs that is affordable,
or sometimes such drugs are
prescribed free of charge. For over-the-counter drugs, there will be no
federal subsidy and patients need to foot the bill in full. Both
prescription and OTC medications are available at the pharmacies (or
specialized shops) in the country.
Italy comprehensive Healthcare system
Undoubtedly, SSN is one comprehensive healthcare system that is much
appreciated by its populace. But as popularity grows, it has led to an
inherent problem, that is, slow patient ‘turn-around’ time.
A common complaint in the countries that people have been put
into wait list that could last for months.
The situation is so bad that it has now been proven difficult
even just to get appointments at one of bigger public medical
facilities. Needless to say,
frustration grows among the Italians. As a result, we are seeing more
and more Italians turn to free market medical assistance program so as
to receive their treatments faster. This is a special provisions from
SSN and it is applicable in both public and private hospitals. With this
provision, patients will have to pay out-of-pocket in exchange for the
prompt medical attention. In
this case, the federal subsidy and the co-payments incorporated into SSN
no longer applies.
Healthcare expenses in Italy
Italy spent as much as 9% of its gross domestic products (or GDP) on
healthcare-related expenditures. The amount invested is consistent with
other OECD countries. Because of the
successful implementation of SSN, public hospitals and medical
facilities are common sights in Italy. But the country is not short of
private hospitals, they can easily be found at the city areas.
Finding a comprehensive Health insurance in Italy
If you are looking for a suitable health insurance plan in Italy
either for you or your family we can help you finding the right Health
plan. Please do not hesitate to
contact us for a personalized quote.