You can obtain medically necessary treatment by presenting the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), when you are temporarily staying in Italy. Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You may need such treatment in case of acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth or to a chronic illness. The need for treatment must emerge during the course of your stay. If your illness requires regular treatment while you are temporarily staying, contact the health care provider abroad in advance and agree on arranging the treatment. Treatments that need to be arranged in advance include, for example, dialysis, oxygen therapy, specialised care of asthma and chemotherapy as well as echocardiography in chronic autoimmune diseases.
You will receive treatment on the same terms and at the same price as the locals. It is advisable to carry copies of your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you, along with the card itself. If you didn’t have your EHIC with you or it was not accepted, and you were required to pay all the costs of treatment yourself, you might be able to apply for reimbursement from Kela retrospectively.
In Italy, public healthcare is administered regionally, which means that there can be differences, for example, in fees within the country.
You can enquire about medical care from the Local Health Unit (Azienda Sanitaria Locale, ASL), in your area. ASL´s contact information can be obtained, for example, from a telephone directory, the reception desk of a hotel, a pharmacy or from websites of the local units.
You can see a general practitioner by going to a public healthcare system health centre (casa della salute or centri di assistenza primaria) of the ASL. You can also consult a general practitioner (medico di medicina generale or medico di famiglia) who is registered with the Italian National Health Service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, SSN) asking for an occasional visit (visita occasionale). You can obtain a list of such doctors, for example, from ASL, Local Health Unit, or from the health care section of the regional websites. Emergency care can be obtained in the evenings, at weekends, and on holidays from the territorial emergency medical service (Guardia Medica) or from hospital emergency clinic (pronto soccorso ospedalieri).
At the reception, show your European Health Insurance Card and your identity card. This will enable you to obtain treatment free of charge in all the public and private health care providers accredited with the Italian National Health Service. However, you may have to pay a deductible (called a ticket).
You can see a specialist if you have a general practitioner´s referral. Private hospitals that work in collaboration with the Italian National Health Services (servizio Sanitario nazionale) may have varying policies regarding referrals. In order to obtain treatment at the co-pay rate, the specialist must be approved by the ASL or by a general practitioner (medico di medicina generale) after an occasional visit. You pay a co-pay fee, which can vary locally, for appointments with specialists and for laboratory tests.
Public dental services are available in Italy only on a very limited basis, and the use of private services is very common. In rare cases, it is possible to consult a dentist at a SSN-operated hospital or a health centre managed by the ASL, but a doctor´s referral is usually needed to obtain treatment. You can ask the ASL office about the possibility to obtain treatment.
You will be reimbursed for prescription medicines prescribed by a doctor registered with the national health system when you present your European Health Insurance Card and ID at the pharmacy (farmacia).
Medicines are divided into three categories according to the seriousness of the illness. Medicines intended for the most serious conditions are free. Medicines intended for the most serious conditions are free. You pay a certain share yourself for medicines for milder illnesses. The amount may vary regionally. If a medicine is not on the Italian national health service´s list of reimbursable medicinal products, you will have to pay the full cost yourself.
In order to obtain hospital treatment, you generally need a doctor´s referral. If you need urgent treatment, you can go directly to the emergency clinic (pronto soccorso) of a public hospital (ospedale pubblico) or a private hospital accredited by SSN (ospendale privato accreditato). Inpatient care is free when you show your European Health Insurance Card and ID. If you want a private room or other special services in hospital, you pay separate surcharges.
Ambulance transport is usually free for holders of a European Health Insurance Card.
Read more about suddenly falling ill in Europe.
Read more about reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad.
If you want to travel to Italy to use healthcare services there, you should read our website for general information about seeking treatment abroad. If you have any questions about healthcare in Italy, contact the National Contact Point of Italy.
An official listing of healthcare providers in Italy is not available online nor is there a search service available. However, the list can be requested from the ASL. You can search ASL office in their website. You can search by area and speciality for private hospitals and clinics on the online version of Italy´s Yellow Pages (in Italian).
In Italy, you can always call 116117 to obtain non-urgent medical assistance. Note that the number is not used in all the regions of Italy. You can find more information of the service from the website of Ministry of Health of Italy.
Quality and safety of treatment
In the event of treatment injuries, the legislation and patient insurance of the country providing the treatment is always applied. In case you are unhappy with the treatment you received, you should primarily try to sort the matter out with the treatment provider, with the Health Directorate (direzione sanitaria) of the hospital or the Local Health Unit (ASL), or contact the local Office for Relations with the Public (Ufficio Relazioni con il Pubblico, URP). The National Contact Point can help you with finding the right authority if you wish to make a complaint.
If you are dissatisfied with treatment received in Italy, you can contact the Contact Point of Italy. They can advise foreign patients about the complaint procedure and any legal proceedings.
The Ministry of Health is the main institution responsible for public healthcare in Italy and it guarantees the health core benefits package i.e. the Essential Levels of care (LEA). The regions are responsible for organizing and delivering healthcare services through local health units.