Living in Rome?
Healthcare in Rome
While the red tape in Italy can be aggravating, the government bureaucracy also has its 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 expatriates, and their dependent family members. In all these cases, you even have to officially register with the SSN (servizio sanitario nazionale), Italy’s national healthcare plan.
Register with Your Local Health Authority in Rome
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). Their official websites usually list a tab called distretti (districts) in their navigation bar or sidebar menu. If you click on that, you’ll get an overview of the areas in Rome covered by the respective ASL office.
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 health card (tesserino sanitario personale) and be assigned a general practitioner (medico di base). 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 can show a valid health card, the consultation will be either free or require a co-payment in cash. Right now, the highest amount due in Lazio 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 fairly long; 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.
You might therefore want to take out supplementary health insurance or opt for full private coverage right away. Some fortunate expats may be offered an international health insurance policy as part of their job perks.
Medical Services in Rome
If you need medical care during your time as an expat in Rome, 118 (ambulance service) is the number to call in case of emergency. For regular check-up exams and minor ailments, though, you have to consult your GP first.
The International Medical Center [I1] always has an English-speaking doctor on duty (488 2371 for local calls). Unless you have private health insurance, though, you have to pay their fees out of your own pocket.
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 Anglophone 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 capacities are limited, and they only accept patients with private health insurance plans.
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