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Healthcare in Italy for Expats

The healthcare in Italy is often regarded as the best in Europe for both travellers and expats living there. Find out how the Italian healthcare system can benefit you

Written by Samanta Crocetti on 2 February 2016

The healthcare in Italy is often regarded as the best in Europe, a reputation gained through a combination of excellent access to health care services and quality of life.

Maybe we all feel healthier on holiday but if you've ever been on holiday to Italy it was a real fact, not only a perception.

In the 'boot-shaped' country you'll live longer than in many other 'civilised' nations thanks to its healthcare system, which is one of the highest-ranked among the 'healthiest' places in the world, due to its intrinsic factors that impact life expectancy in Italy. Its Mediterranean-style diet, along with a mild climate which positively affects many ailments and its more relaxed rhythm of life are major contributors to Italians' good health.

"So what?!" you might say. So if you are considering buying a property and relocating to Italy healthcare is a crucial factor.

What does the healthcare in Italy offer to UK citizens?

Public healthcare in Italy is free or very low cost, unless you decide to opt for a private hospital and treatments. As a matter of fact all visitors get free emergency care following an accident or sudden illness.

Healthcare in Italy for temporary visitors

We always recommend British citizens thinking to travel to Italy to apply for a EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) before travelling to Italy to have access to state-provided healthcare in Italy at a reduced cost, or for free in case you are on a temporary stay. You can apply online for your card free of charge for you and your family members. It is also issued by the institution that provides health insurance in Britain. Each one must have its own EHIC.

As a EEA national with a valid EHIC card you are entitle to any treatment for pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, but you are not covered in case of rescue, repatriation back to UK or private health care.

In any case, it is always advisable to show your health card when you arrive to the hospital just to be sure you are covered for everything you need since regulations may slightly vary from region to region.

Healthcare in Italy for expats

If you are thinking to permanently move, understanding the healthcare in Italy rules is vital.

Once you get your residence permit you can also register with the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) of the area where you are living which also guarantees the assistance of a local doctor (medico di base in Italian) that you can consult everytime you need. This can be especially useful if you are a retiree or if you are working in Italy.

In many cases some Brits living in Italy decide to take out a personal health insurance anyway depending on their needs.

How good is the healthcare in Italy?

Nationwide, healthcare in Italy ranges from good to excellent. Ask any expat in the peninsula and more often than not they will tell you they have received really good health care, especially in emergencies. They will often add that had they needed such assistance in their home country that it would probably have been inferior or far more expensive.

If you're in the older age brackets you may well find that moving to Italy will see your health improve, and that your healthcare generally will be more affordable.

But no matter how old you are, Italy is a healthy place to live.