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Health and Medical Care

In this page you will find information about the Italian National Health Service – SSN (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale), how it works  and the options you may have according to the work contract (or fellowship) and to nationality. A general overview of the Italian health care system is provided along with available health coverage  according to the length of the stay in Italy. 
In Italy the health care system is administered at national level by the Italian National Health Service – SSN (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale),  made  up of public and private regulated structures. It is organised autonomously on a regional basis and includes public and private clinics and specialists.
Registration with the SSN guarantees:

  •  free consultations with general practitioners (including pediatricians), but payment of a small fee (ticket) for visits and medical examinations with specialists is required (the payment is not compulsory for people with chronic illnesses or belonging to specific groups);
  • free hospitalisation;
  • access to day hospitals in specialised medical structures (dermatology, ophthalmology, etc.);
  • pharmaceutical assistance (prescriptions and refunds on purchases).

General practitioner and pediatrician
In case of headache, sore throat, flu, cold, allergies, etc. it is possible to see a general practitioner (medico di famiglia) or a pediatrician (pediatra). Visits are free of charge provided that you registered with the SSN or you hold a valid European Health Insurance Card - EHIC (for EU, EEA or Swiss citizens only).

Specialist treatment
You can choose to go to a private medical practitioners or a specialist provided by the SSN. In the latter case a medical examination request (impegnativa) issued by a general practitioner is needed. Then it is possible to make an appointment with the specialist by contacting the healthcare booking service CUP (Centro Unico Prenotazioni) at the Local Health Authorities (Azienda Sanitaria Locale – ASL). The payment of a fee (ticket) for the visit is requested. Holders of EHIC must always bring the Card with them.
What to do in case of emergencies:

  • It is possible to go directly to a hospital emergency ward (Pronto Soccorso): the service provided is usually free for emergencies but the payment of a small fee may be requested for other types of illnesses.
  • To call an ambulance, or to receive first-aid assistance, the free number to dial is 118; the free number is available also on Sundays, holidays and at the night.
  • There is an extra emergency medical treatment in the evening (8 pm – 8 am), on bank holidays and Sundays, called Duty Doctor Service (Guardia medica), available in each Italian city.

Less than 3 months
Researchers, citizens of EU Member State, Switzerland or an EEA country, holding a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by the Health authority in their country of origins, have  access to emergencies and medical treatment that may become necessary during a temporary stay (less than 3 months) in another EU country. It is always necessary to bring the EHIC.
Non-EU researchers living, studying and/or working in Italy must have a source of health care provision which protects them in case of sickness, accident or pregnancy. The application for a visa and permit of stay requires evidence of the ability to cover health risks. These sources can be:

  •  the purchasing of a private health insurance policy valid in Italy; it is compulsory, before leaving, to have a copy of the policy endorsed by an Italian embassy or consulate;
  •  the purchasing of a private insurance policy issued in Italy by a national insurance company.

Once in Italy, registration with the Italian National Health Service (SSN) is allowed.
More than 3 months
Registration with the SSN is compulsory for researchers holding a work contract (i.e. employed, self-employed). Application must be submitted at the Local Health Authorities (Azienda Sanitaria Locale ASL) according to the area of residence.
There are no fees and the health insurance card (Tessera Sanitaria) will be issued immediately and free of charge by ASL. It will cover the same period of the researcher’s contract (in case of a short term contract).
In order to be registered, specific documents must be submitted such as, for example, passport or valid ID, Italian tax identification number, permit  of stay, certificate of residence (or the relevant application submitted to City Hall Registry Office) or self-certification, work contract, etc. Additional documents may be asked. It is recommended to contact in advance the nearest Local Health Authority.
Upon registration at the ASL, the health insurance card (tessera sanitaria) will be issued immediately and free of charge. Then you can choose a General Practitioner (Medico di famiglia) and a pediatrician if needed.
Voluntary registration with the SSN
In case of work contract free from IRPEF tax (Personal Income Tax) i.e. Assegno di ricerca or other study grant,  the options could be voluntary register with the SSN by paying an annual fee to be calculated on the previous yearly income or by taking out a private health policy in Italy.
N.B. ONLY for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals might be covered by the  EHIC ONLY when the researcher does not move the permanent residency to Italy (up to 12 months).
N.B. Holders of study permit of stay are allowed to voluntary register with SSN by paying a fixed amount of around €150.
It is recommended to contact in advance the nearest Local Health Authority in order to see the documents required in case of compulsory or voluntary registration at SSN. The voluntary registration expires on December 31st of each year.
Please note that registration with SSN is allowed also with the post receipt of the request for the first permit of stay.
It is possible to extend to the SSN healthcare coverage also to dependent family members. In this case they must be added to the researcher permit of stay application form. For more information please contact the nearest Local Health Authority.

N.B. Holders of family reunion permit of stay are compulsory registered with the SSN for free.
Moreover, several Non EU countries have signed bilateral agreements or conventions with Italy. It is possible to get the specific form for the extension of the coverage from the country of origin to Italy BEFORE leaving. Once in Italy, this paper must be submitted to ASL which will issue a confirmation of health coverage in Italy.
For a practical glossary of medical care, click here.
Further information


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Last update : 22 Dec 2014 - 14:49