If you are studying in Italy for any amount of time, understanding the health care system in Italy is crucial to being prepared and fostering a positive experience. According to the World Health Organization, Italy is one of the top ten countries in the world for health services. Therefore, you can rest assured that if anything is to happen to you, you will be in good hands. However, that being said, the healthcare system has actually been transitioning and undergoing reforms over the past few years.
According to the European Observatory on Health Care Systems, the health care system in Italy is composed of three parts, the national, regional and local governments, whose responsibilities differ. While the national government’s primary obligation is clarifying the goals of health care in Italy, regional governments implement and carry out a benefits package. The regional governments carry the most authority in terms of medical treatment in Italy, as of 1997 when the national government endowed it with this power.
However, it is important to acknowledge that geography does, in fact, affect health care in Italy. The south, the poorer region of the country, consequently hosts facilities that are subpar in comparison to the affluent Northern region. Obviously this is a bit of a discrepancy, seeing as everyone should be afforded access to the same level of medical treatment in Italy. While the facilities vary between public and private, the doctors and staff in the health care system in Italy are well trained and abide by high global standards.
In 1978, the public health facilities in Italy were born. Though these facilities are adequate for Italians, often times the accommodations are inferior to what people are accustomed to in the United States. The waits can be long and the facilities aren’t luxurious, but the care is still sufficient and a viable option. While private hospitals don’t usually have an emergency wing, the public health facilities offer both emergency and non-emergency services.
As mentioned above, the public health facilities are not comparable to those in the United States based on comfort, but the private health facilities are. Endowed with more amenities and engaged service providers, most foreigners opt for private health facilities. The medical treatment is equal in both types, and personal preference will determine which environment is most comfortable. The major advantages of private health care are personal physician selection, great service and comfort.
If you are working in Italy, your employer should cover health care expenses. As a student, you must seek out health insurance prior to coming to Italy, which will then be applied to your health care in Italy.
Although in recent years medical treatment in Italy has undergone some reforms, today these facilities remain some of the best in the world, employing dedicated and knowledgeable physicians. Whether you choose to visit either a public or private care facility, rest assured that you will be in good hands during your time abroad in Italy.