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Healthcare for Foreigners and tourists in Italy

Planning a trip to Italy? While you're looking forward to the art, cuisine, and stunning landscapes, it's crucial to understand how healthcare works for tourists. This guide answers common questions to help you prepare for any medical situations during your Italian adventure.


Is healthcare free for tourists in Italy?

Healthcare is not free for tourists in Italy. While emergency services are provided to everyone regardless of nationality or insurance status, non-EU visitors are generally expected to pay for medical services.

How long do you have to live in Italy to get free healthcare?

To access Italy's public healthcare system, you generally need to be a legal resident. This typically means having lived in Italy for at least 5 years. However, EU citizens and some non-EU residents working in Italy may be eligible sooner.

crowded waiting room in doctor's office in Italy

Access to Healthcare for Foreigners and tourists in Italy

The level of healthcare access for foreigners in Italy depends on various factors, including nationality and the nature of your visit

- European Union (EU) Citizens: EU citizens visiting Italy are entitled to essential healthcare services through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC covers necessary medical treatments during your stay. It's crucial to carry your EHIC card with you at all times.

- Non-EU Citizens: Non-EU travelers may not have the same healthcare privileges. While emergency healthcare is generally provided to everyone, non-EU visitors are strongly advised to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses, including non-urgent care. It should be noted that costs of ERs visits in Italy is relatively low.

- Long-Term Residents: Foreigners residing in Italy for an extended period may have the option to enroll in the SSN. Enrollment typically involves paying a fee and meeting specific residency requirements like having a fixed occupation or studies.

The Italian Healthcare System:

Italy is known for its universal healthcare system, the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN). This system provides Italian citizens and legal residents with access to comprehensive medical care funded through taxation. However, healthcare for tourists and non-resident foreigners, accessing healthcare can be a bit more intricate. The major problem the Italian medical care system suffers these days is the reduced number of physicians in Italy that is driven by a relatively low salaries for doctors that can find better opportunities elsewhere in Europe and the aging of doctors in Italy.

As a result, Emergency Rooms (ER) have long waiting times and, generally speaking, it would be difficult to find staff members (other than few doctors) who speaks other languages but Italian. It should be recommend to seek medical assistance in public hospitals only for true emergencies when you need additional exams like X-Ray or laboratory services.

healthcare facility in Italy

What happens if I get sick in Italy?

If you fall ill in Italy, you have several options:

1. For emergencies, call 112 or go to the nearest hospital's emergency room ("Pronto Soccorso").

2. For non-emergencies, visit a local pharmacy, see a general practitioner via a telemedicine service or go to a walk-in clinic.

Emergency Services: Dial 112

In the event of a medical emergency, dial 112, Italy's emergency services number. Operators are generally proficient in both Italian and English, ensuring efficient dispatch of necessary assistance. Italy places a high priority on emergency healthcare services to provide prompt and effective care during critical situations.

Are emergency services free in Italy?

Emergency services are provided to everyone, but non-EU tourists may be billed for these services afterward.

How much is an ER visit in Italy?

 ER visits in Italy can cost between €50 to €200 for basic services. More complex treatments or admissions will increase the cost significantly.



Can I see a doctor for free in Italy?

Free medical care is generally not available to tourists in Italy. EU citizens with a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may receive reduced-cost or free necessary treatments.

Can I get antibiotics in Italy?

Antibiotics require a prescription in Italy. Visit a doctor to obtain a prescription if needed. 

Do you pay for medical treatment in Italy?

Yes, non-EU tourists are expected to pay for medical treatment in Italy. Always keep receipts as you may be able to claim reimbursement from your travel insurance.

How much is it to see a doctor in Italy?

Costs vary, but a general practitioner visit typically ranges from €50 to €120. Specialist consultations may cost more.

How to get medical care in Italy?

 To access medical care:

1. For emergencies, call 112 or go to the nearest ER

2. For non-emergencies, visit a pharmacy or see a general practitioner

3. Use your hotel concierge or embassy for recommendations

4. Consider telemedicine services for a more convenient way to get treatments

How to get a doctor's appointment in Italy?

 For tourists, the easiest ways to get a doctor's appointment are:

1. Use online booking services for English-speaking doctors

2. Ask your hotel for recommendations

3. Visit a walk-in clinic

Telemedicine for travelers and tourists in Italy

Telemedicine: The best and most Convenient Modern Solution

A golaba emerging trend in medical care for foreigners and tourists in modern countries and in Italy is telemedicine. Medical care providers offering telemedicine platforms like Pyllola Telemedicine with immediate access to English-speaking doctors, both general practitioners and experts in internal medicine. This innovative approach, that gained its popularity during the COVID-19 epidemic, allows travelers to seek medical advice for non-emergency issues without the need for registration or software downloads. Telemedicine is a solution for urgent care as accessibility is almost immediate, where you can have a video call with a family practice doctor about your health issues.

Benefits of Telemedicine encounters comprises an almost immediate accessibility, not having to search specific clinics where doctors speaks English - you stay in your accomodation and conduct the video-call with the doctor, the ease of getting the appointment (it's all in English), you communicate in your language so chances of mistakes are very low and you can get prescriptions you can fill in any pharmacy in italy.

Telemedicine providers usually offers a prescription-only services at a reduced fees that are valuable in case you lost or forgotten your medications.

Pyllola's prompt response and cost-effective consultations have been embraced by many travelers.

Finding the best medical care solution that suites your needs:

there are several possible ways to find the best solution for you in case you need medical assistance. These days people usually Google on their phones something like doctor near me or urgent care near me, nice tries but many times they find themselves finding a local medical doctor who's clinic is indeed close to where you are but its either closed (Italian GP tend to work several hours a day) or the physician doesn't speak any other language but Italian and scheduling an appointment can be through his/her Italian website.... You can read this article that discusses the best ways to find medical treatment in Italy for Non-Italian speaking tourists or foreigners.


Do foreigners need health insurance in Italy?

While not legally required, health insurance is strongly recommended for foreigners visiting Italy. It can cover unexpected medical expenses and potential evacuation costs.

The Importance of Private Health Insurance

Regardless of your nationality, investing in private health insurance is a wise decision when visiting Italy. Comprehensive travel insurance can cover a wide range of medical expenses, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency repatriation. It provides peace of mind and ensures you receive timely and appropriate medical care.


Statistical Insights into Healthcare for Tourists in Italy

- Tourist Arrivals: Italy consistently ranks among the world's top tourist destinations. In 2022, after a drop caused by COVID-19 in 2020-1, Italy welcomed over 74 million international tourist arrivals, according to data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

- Healthcare Spending : Italy's healthcare expenditure as a percentage of GDP was approximately 9.3% in 2019, as reported by the World Bank. This reflects the country's commitment to healthcare provision.

- Private Health Insurance : The Italian Association of Insurance Companies reported a 6.4% increase in insurance policies sold to foreigners visiting Italy in 2019. This indicates a growing awareness among travelers of the importance of private health insurance.

- Telemedicine Adoption: Telemedicine adoption in Italy has been on the rise, especially among English-speaking tourists. Platforms like Pyllola Telemedicine have experienced a significant increase in users, highlighting the convenience and effectiveness of remote healthcare services.

While Italy offers a plethora of cultural and culinary delights, travelers must be prepared for healthcare scenarios. Italy's healthcare system is robust, but comprehensive travel insurance covering medical expenses is highly recommended for all visitors. Additionally, telemedicine services like Pyllola Telemedicine provide convenient access to English-speaking healthcare professionals, offering peace of mind and efficient healthcare solutions during your Italian adventure. With the right preparations and knowledge, you can enjoy Italy's beauty and culture without concerns about healthcare.

See a Doctor in Rome

See a Doctor in Florence and Tuscany

See a Doctor in Venice and surrounding area

See a Doctor in Puglia

See a Doctor in Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano and surrounding area

See a Doctor in Milan, Como, Lake Maggiore and surrounding area

See a Doctor in Verona, Lake Garda and surrounding area

See a Doctor in Naples and surrounding area

Buon viaggio!


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