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In Italy we have a socialized medical system. Depending on where you are, the service you receive ranges from wonderful (my experience) to frightening. Tuscany and Umbria seem to be far ahead of the south and the north here.
After you arrive and get settled in you will be able to apply for your health card at your local Azienda Sanitaria. If you are employed here you will need some information from your employer as well as your passport and your permesso di soggiorno.
If you are not employed, you will need your permesso di soggiorno as well as your passport and your tax records. This process is best handled through an accountant here (commercialista) and they will need to calculate your worldly income.
Normally you will need to pay around €400 per year plus a small percentage on your income. Once you have your card you will be able to visit doctors, dentists, eye doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc. You will sometimes pay a small co-payment. Prescriptions will be covered for the most part (small co-payment sometimes) and doctors will do house calls.
The major drawback is if you need surgery you will have to wait until they have space for you unless it is an emergency. Even with all the laws on privacy in Italy, you do not have any in a hospital situation. You can forget having a curtain between you and the next bed.
In this section you will find articles written specifically for Expats in Italy as well as as our Book Excerpt from Survival Guides.