The Ministry of Health is the main institution responsible for public healthcare in Italy. The regions are responsible for organising and delivering healthcare services through local health units.
You can obtain medically necessary treatment by presenting the European Health Insurance Card, 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. 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 with you, along with the card itself.
In Italy, public healthcare is administered regionally, which means that there can be differences, for example, in prices within the country. As a rule, healthcare and medical care are free, however.
You can enquire about medical care from the local health authority, 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.
Additional information about healthcare in Italy is available in English on the website of Italy´s Ministry of Health.
You can see a general practitioner by going to a public healthcare system health centre of the ASL. You can also consult a general practitioner (medico di medicina generale) who is registered with the Italian National Health Service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, SSN). You can obtain a list of such doctors, for example, from the local health authority, ASL. Emergency care can be obtained in the evenings and at weekends from the emergency medical service (Guardia Medica).
Show your European Health Insurance Card and ID at the appointment. This will enable you to obtain treatment in most areas free of charge.
You can see a specialist if you have a general practitioner´s referral. You should check this in advance with the specialist. Private hospitals may have varying practices with respect to referrals. In order to obtain treatment at the co-pay rate, the specialist must be approved by the ASL. You pay a co-pay fee, which can vary locally, for appointments with specialists and for laboratory tests. Certain special groups, such as children under the age of 6, can be treated free.
If you complied with the instructions and still had to pay the full price at a place of treatment registered with the national health system, save all receipts. You can seek reimbursement afterwards from your local ASL office.
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 ALS 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. A certain proportion of the costs of medicines for less severe illnesses is reimbursed. The amount may vary regionally. These medicines, too, may be free for some special groups, such as children under the age of 6. 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). You can also go to a private hospital (casa di cura or clinica) if it has an SSN contract. Inpatient care is free when you show your European Health Insurance Card and ID. A co-pay fee may be charged for emergency care. 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. Occasionally however, you may have to pay a co-pay fee. The amount varies locally.
Read more about suddenly falling ill in Europe.
Read more about reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad.
If you wish to travel to Italy for the purpose of using healthcare services, you can find general information on our site concerning seeking treatment. Some useful sources of information are also listed below. You should direct your questions about healthcare in Italy to the Italian contact point.
An official listing of healthcare providers in Italy is not available online nor is there a search service available. You can search by area for a doctor who speaks English, for example, on the website of the United States Diplomatic Mission to Italy. You can search by area and speciality for private hospitals and clinics on the Medico Facile online service or on the online version of Italy´s Yellow Pages.
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. 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.