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International Healthcare in Italy



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 described above.

 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.

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