An expat guide to health insurance in Italy (2023-2024)

Discover Italy’s health care system and find out about the different public and private health insurance options for EU & Non-EU citizens.


4 minute read
Updated on 25 Mar 2024

Are you planning on moving to Italy, but still have doubts about the quality of the public healthcare system and the available insurance options?

In this article, we’ll give you information on what you can expect from Italy’s healthcare system. You’ll get information on:

  • how public health insurance works
  • how having private coverage compliments it
  • how your options are impacted by your country of origin

Italy’s health care system

Italy has a well-established public welfare system which puts a big emphasis on healthcare. Overall, the quality of the National Health Service (SSN - Servizio Sanitario Nazionale) is high, with some of the lowest healthcare costs and a high life expectancy.

SSN provides all Italian citizens with access to free or very cheap basic medical services, such as:

  • A family doctor and other medical specialists
  • Medical prescriptions
  • Blood analysis and other medical exams
  • Hospital admissions

It is important to note that the Italian healthcare system is managed at a regional level by authorities called Azienda sanitaria locale (ASL). As a result, the procedures and responsible entities vary widely according to your region of residence. Besides that, there may also be long waiting times to get access to consultations with a professional.

There are also discrepancies in the quality of the provided services and, although there are exceptions, they tends to be higher in the Northern part of Italy. However, you don’t have to worry about this too much since the government is taking action to reduce the discrepancies.

How does public health insurance in Italy work for expats

Your country of origin and the length of your stay are the main variables that you must consider when deciding on your health insurance.

Public health insurance for European citizens

If you are a European citizen (citizens of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland included), the good news is that your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC, or TEAM with the Italian acronym) is automatically recognized by the SSN. It grants you access to the same services as Italian citizens. All the benefits are granted if you possess the S1 Form.

Public health insurance for citizens from partnering countries

Some non-EU states have bilateral agreements that grant health assistance to their citizens who reside in Italy. You’d need a document issued by your local Italian embassy or consulate in order to make use of this option.

The countries which have such an agreement with Italy are as follows:


Public health insurance for Non-European citizens

If you come from outside the European Union and your country of origin doesn’t have an agreement with Italy, your affiliation to the SSN can be mandatory or voluntary, based on the reason for your presence in Italy.

Is having public health insurance mandatory?

Having public health insurance is mandatory if you are in Italy for work, family reasons, seeking asylum or international protection, or for medical treatments. The application to the SSN is free in this case and requires you to present the following documents to the local ASL:

Voluntary Public Health Insurance

Getting access to public health insurance in Italy is voluntary if you are staying in Italy for over 3 months and the reasons for your presence are not the ones listed above. For example, students, volunteers, and employees of international organizations fall into this category.

Cost of public health insurance in Italy

To subscribe, you must pay a fee based on your income. If you are a student, you must pay a fixed fee of €149.77. Paying the fee grants you the right to use the available services free of charge until the end of the calendar year, within which the payment has been made.

You can pay this fee at any post office, by filling in the F24 form (Modello F24). Following that, bring the proof of payment, your passport, and your residency permit to any ASL location. The registration is valid until the end of each calendar year.

Private health care system in Italy

Despite the SSN being well established and providing satisfactory services, some people opt-in for private health insurance as well. In addition to the public coverage, a private health insurance grants you additional services, such as the ability to choose your doctor, getting access to private clinics and skipping queues for special treatment visits.

Private health insurance from an international provider

The pre-existing health insurance from non-EU member states is valid if it satisfies the following conditions:

  • It needs to be issued with the name of the holder your name (in western characters)
  • It has to be written in Italian (or in English, French, Spanish)
  • It needs to be valid in the Schengen Area / Italy
  • It needs to states the exact coverage period (not less than 6 months and a maximum of 1 year)
  • It must cover amounts of up to €30,000 and specify the covered medical expenses
  • The whole document must be approved and stamped by the Italian Embassy/Consulate in your country of origin.

Private health insurance by an Italian provider

Obtaining private health insurance from an Italian provider may be safer for the duration of your stay in Italy. However, you should make sure it offers worldwide coverage if you plan to travel and move to other countries afterwards.

Cigna Global and Aetna International are regarded as the best options for expats in Italy.

All in all, by subscribing to public health insurance in Italy you'll be reasonably covered in any case you would need medical assistance.

Getting private insurance is a bit of a luxury in Italy, but will grant you access to top-class services everywhere, without waiting lines.

Now that you have the information you need to know about health insurance in Italy, you can breathe a sigh of relief and start checking off the other items from your relocation checklist.

Ready, steady, go!

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