How the Medical system works in Italy
Since 1978, the Italian local healthcare system has been administered by the National Health Service, which provides universal health coverage via the implementation of the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN). Every resident in Italy can register free of charge with the SSN. Since 1998, the entire SSN system is funded by the regions through a regional tax. Therefore, each region is responsible for maintaining its own financial balance.
The SSN only covers routine care: general medicine, pediatrics, dental care, gynecology, hospitalization, etc. Patients do not have to pay for their consultation as the doctor is paid directly by the region.
In general, the Italian healthcare system provides quality medical care.
Visiting a doctor in Italy
As part of the universal health coverage, referring GPs (medico di famiglia) see their patients in local health units (USL). They are all State-registered but are either civil servants or have their private practice. Insured members are free to choose their own referring GP.
Consultations with State-registered doctors in local health units are free.
As the public healthcare system provides free care, it is often overcrowded and there may be long waiting times whereas in the private system, waiting times are shorter but doctors’ fees are much higher.
If you are not registered with the SSN and consult a doctor from the private system, you will have to pay between €50 and €80 for a consultation with a GP.
In Italy, few doctors speak English but some medical facilities intended for tourists provide English-speaking medical staff.
You can only see specialist doctors after being referred by the GP. Fees range from 13 to 36 euros on average for consultations in local health units (USL) by State-registered specialists.
As for the private sector, consultation fees vary from €100 to €200.