The Healthcare System for Visitors to Italy

Italy is an eternally popular destination with British visitors, whether they be enjoying the history of Rome, skiing on the Alps or tasting wine in Tuscany. Few of us jet off on holiday anticipating falling ill, but it’s wise to be prepared. As both countries are members of the European Union, visitors from the UK to Italy have a range of options for their healthcare in Italy.

EHIC Cover in Italy

Reciprocal arrangements for healthcare between the UK and Italian government are known as EHIC in the UK and TEAM in Italy. You have to apply online for this card before you leave the UK. If the worst happens and you need to see an Italian doctor or be admitted to hospital, your EHIC cover could save substantial sums. If you are planning on being in Italy for three months, you have to register with the Italian health service. With your EHIC card, you will be able to see a GP or be admitted to hospital as an emergency free of charge. If the doctor refers you on to hospital, make sure you take copies of the EHIC and your passport with you, and ensure you are being admitted as a SSN (Italian state healthcare) patient and not privately. Most hospitals will have English speaking staff, but this is not guaranteed and it will make the admission process much easier if you have assistance from a native Italian speaker.

Depending on the condition and diagnostic tests you might need, you may be asked to make a contribution towards your treatment. Details of fees will be explained when the GP refers you. Always ask for itemised billing and receipts for any payments you make, as you may be able to claim these back if you are covered with travel insurance. The same principle applies to prescription medication, and you will be expected to make a contribution. Italian pharmacists are well qualified and often speak English, and are often the first port of call for minor ailments. Contributions are often charged for dental treatment also.

Additional Travel Insurance for Italy

Depending where you are in Italy, you may have the option of using the medical cover on your travel insurance to access private healthcare. Private hospitals are more common in the larger cities. Being able to access private medical care may make it easier to find an English speaking doctor, or to have tests and minor procedures carried out more quickly. Before agreeing to go down the private route for any treatment, speak to your insurance company in the UK and confirm they will meet the cost.

If you are skiing, travel insurance could come into its own by paying for helicopter transfers off the mountain to hospital or flights home after treatment. Make sure you specify that you want winter sports cover when you arrange your insurance. If you do need to claim on your travel insurance, communicate regularly with your insurance company and keep copies of all documentation and bills you are given.