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Healthcare in Italy

Italy

Healthcare in Italy

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Healthcare in Italy

Italy ranks number two on the World Health Organisation's list of top countries for quality health care services. However, although medical facilities are considered to be sufficient for any emergencies, many public hospitals are overcrowded and under-funded.

Italy has a national health plan that provides for hospital assistance and medical benefits. You can legally apply to join the plan. Eligibility for the plan, however, depends on certain criteria, such as your nationality, work permit, etc.

If you are a citizen of Italy and covered by the national health plan, hospital services will be provided to you and your dependents free of charge. Visitors, or persons not legally covered by the plan, are expected to pay full hospital charges and then claim a reimbursement from their insurance provider. If you do find yourself in an emergency, head for the nearest hospital. Most general and regional hospitals have emergency rooms that are open 24-hours-a-day.

To call an ambulance, dial 118 from any telephone. Assistance can also be found by calling the police on 113. Both of these are equivalent to the 999 number here in the .

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Private Healthcare

No matter what country you decide to relocate to, getting private healthcare is always a safe option. The quality of national healthcare fluctuates from country to country. The price of the most fundamental care is often very high and this is supposing you find a suitable hospital or doctor to begin with.

Private healthcare, on the other hand, often adheres to a standardisation of service. Consequently, as an expat, it is probably wise to invest in private healthcare at least until you are completely familiar with the national health system. Getting medical treatment for you and your family without comprehensive health insurance could prove arduous, and no-one wants the hassle of bureaucracy in an emergency. You may even find that the country you are emigrating to has no national health service.

The benefits of private healthcare include:

  • Peace of mind

  • Better efficiency and quality of service

  • Could save large sums money (possibly thousands of pounds) in the case of an emergency

  • A vaster choice of services and practitioners

  • No waiting lists or bureaucracy

  • Ensures you do not have to settle for local, possibly inadequate or unhygienic, services

  • Request an English-speaking doctor / nurse

Necessity, not luxury

In recent years, private health insurance enquiries have soared in popularity amongst emigrants. By way of policy comparison, people and businesses are continually looking to reduce the cost of their private healthcare. For many, this is because private health cover is not considered an extravagance, but a requisite for living overseas.

However, it must be acknowledged that the rules and regulations associated with international private healthcare are often complex, and attempts to find realistic costs and cover can be both timely and tedious. Therefore, it is vital to approach private health insurance with a few certainties in mind:

Who can provide it and what you should expect

Many private health insurers now provide cover for most countries, so your options are vast. However, if you are emigrating to a country without nationalised healthcare, there are many factors to consider when choosing an insurance company and policy many of which differ by location and cost.

Will the insurer cover:

  • Maternity?

  • A chronic illness / condition?

  • A country at war?

You will have to weigh-up the costs of such services as private doctors, outpatient medicine, and dental cover. But that's not all. You may also have to decide where you'd like to receive treatment in the case of a serious health problem or injury. Does your adopted nation meet requirements, or would you prefer to return to the UK for treatment?

Your chosen destination

All though a policy may meet your medical requirements, a country's health service may not. Therefore, wherever your business takes you, it is important to consider:

  • Laws and regulations of the country

  • Accessibility and availability of treatment

  • 24-hour emergency treatment

  • Security

  • Case management and service delivery

Choosing your health insurance policy

When deciding upon a suitable private health plan, will you require any of the following benefits? If so, will you be able to receive them?

Cover for:

  • The region / country of relocation

  • Psychiatric care

  • Rehabilitation

  • Therapy

  • Emergency evacuation and transportation

  • In-patient and day case management

  • Out-patient treatment

  • Chronic and existing illnesses and conditions

  • Maternity

  • Dental / optical requirements and treatment

  • Out-of-area treatment

You will find that many policies include a small standard excess, which will be charged either per year, or per claim. However, if you choose a higher excess plan these premiums can be remarkably reduced.

Do I have any other choices?

Depending on where you decide to relocate, there are other health care options available to you:

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Providing you are within the European Economic Area, UK citizens are eligible for emergency treatment with a EHIC. It entitles you to exactly the same standard of healthcare as a national. However, the card does not cover the cost of repatriation should you need to be flown back to the UK.

In some instances, the EHIC will cover you for pre-existing conditions, and it is often possible to prearrange treatments. Do remember, however, that an EHIC will not cover treatment at a private clinic or centre: always ask where you are being referred to for any treatment.

Treatment in the UK

It is a general truism that emigration is fraught with significant costs. As a result, people often consider private health insurance one cost too many especially if they are on a tight budget. They are all too willing to run the risk.

Consequently, many emigrants and travellers opt to return to the UK for medical treatment, but often overlook the fact that this too can be a very risky option. Firstly, you still need to be registered with a UK doctor to be eligible for treatment upon your return. If unprepared, you could find yourself in the same situation back in the UK.

Secondly, you need to account for medical emergencies which would require immediate attention. Is it really worth the risk?

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