Living in Rome?
Healthcare in Rome
While the red tape in Italy can be aggravating, the government bureaucracy does have some advantages. Most expats living in Rome with a valid visa, residence permit, and/or residence certificate are entitled to the same public healthcare as Italian citizens.
This applies, among others, to foreign employees working in Rome, self-employed expats, and their dependent family members. EU citizens can use their EHIC card to access the public healthcare system, while non-EU nationals must officially register with the SSN (servizio sanitario nazionale), Italy’s national healthcare plan.
Register with Your Local Health Authority
For your SSN registration, you need to find out which local health authority (Azienda Sanitaria Locale or ASL) administers the area where you live. There are eight ASL offices covering Rome’s metropolitan area (ASL A — ASL H).
To begin the registration process, go to the nearest ASL center and bring along the following documents:
- your ID (e.g. valid passport or travel document)
- tax number (codice fiscale)
- residence permit (or proof that you have applied for one)
- proof of address (e.g. residence certificate, rental contract, etc.)
After completing the necessary forms, you will receive your tesserino sanitario (health card) and be assigned a medico di base (general practitioner). If you are not content with your original GP, you can look for a new family doctor whenever you want.
Public Healthcare Coverage in Italy
If you are an employee, your company pays your healthcare contributions for you. Self-employed expats working in Rome can opt for voluntary out-of-pocket coverage by the SSN. In any case, some form of medical insurance is mandatory while you live in Italy.
As a member of the SSN, don’t forget to bring along your health card every time you visit the doctor’s or a clinic. Provided you show your valid health card, the consultation will be either free, or require a co-payment in cash. Right now, the highest amount due in Lazio (the region in which Rome is located) is around 36 EUR as a maximum out-of-pocket payment, plus around 15 EUR extra for the most expensive diagnostic exam, a CAT scan.
SSN healthcare coverage entitles you to:
- check-up exams
- diagnostic exams (including X-rays, ultrasound, blood tests)
- home visits
- prescription meds
- specialist exams (often require co-payments)
- hospitalization with a referral from your GP
- rehab treatment
Moreover, all women — both locals and expats — can consult their local Family Advice Bureau for cancer screenings, contraception, pre-natal and post-natal care, pregnancy terminations, or treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.
Private Medical Insurance
However, there are also certain disadvantages to SSN medical coverage: Waiting lists at public healthcare providers can be long, and some aspects of overall health (such as dental care) are not included at all. Furthermore, you don’t have any access whatsoever to private clinics and practices.
Many expats decide to take out supplementary health insurance or opt for full private coverage right away. Some fortunate expats may even be offered an international health insurance policy as one of their job perks.
Medical Services in Rome
If you need emergency medical care during your time as an expat in Rome, 118 (ambulance service) is the number to call. For regular check-up exams and minor ailments, though, you must consult your GP first.
The International Medical Center always has an English-speaking doctor on duty (06 488 2371 for local calls). Unless you have private health insurance, though, you have to pay their fees yourself.
If your Italian isn’t up to scratch, ask your embassy or consulate in Rome for a list of doctors that speak your mother tongue. There are quite a few English and German-speaking doctors around, while physicians fluent in other foreign languages are somewhat rare.
The Salvator Mundi International Hospital in Rome has both English-speaking staff and an excellent reputation, but with 75 beds only, their capacity is limited, and they only accept patients with private health insurance plans.
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