You have to go to the hospital or you need medication or a doctor in Italy, we will explain how to do it.
Emergency number in Italy
The emergency number for all emergency services, such as the police, carabinieri and hospitals, is number 112 in Italy.
The European health insurance card EHIC
If you are resident in the European Union and you have a health insurance in your home country, public medical care is covered in all countries of the EU. In order to benefit from the public health insurance in Italy, you must have the plastic card issued by your health insurance company – the health card or health insurance card. It is called “tessera sanitaria” in Italy. The back of the card is issued according to European standards and entitles you to receive health insurance services in Italy. With the EHIC, you are equated to an Italian citizen for health insurance. How the card is used is explained in this article.
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In an emergency or in case of an accident you can turn to the first aid – Pronto Soccorso – of the public hospitals. In a first investigation, the urgency of your case is assessed. The urgent cases are preferred, light cases often have to wait a long time.
If you are asked for the “tessera sanitaria”, show your health card.
The services provided by the hospital’s first aid and the necessary ambulance are covered by your health card, the European health insurance card EHIC.
If you are on vacation, you can visit the practice of a contract doctor of the Italian National Health Insurance (SSN) – il medico di base. You must show the physician your health card EHIC as well as an identification document. Your hotel can give you more information about the doctors’ addresses and times. In many regions there is also a medical emergency service for tourists, in Rome it can be reached by phone +39 06 570 600. The medico di base or the medical emergency service will prescribe all other services such as medication, laboratory tests or the transfer to specialists. Whenever you are asked about tessera sanitaria, you can present your health card EHIC.
The services of the physician, the Medico di base, are free of charge with the insurance card EHIC, for a lot of medicines, as well as for additional examinations and services a kind of prescription fee is required. These fees will not be reimbursed by your home country’s health insurance. To cover these costs, you need an additional foreign health insurance.
Urgent Medical Care
Though the quality of public medical assistance is excellent, you are likely to end up waiting many hours before seeing a doctor, in particular if you are not in a life threatening emergency.
A fee-for-service alternative providing urgent care is Doctors in Italy, a well established association of English-speaking doctors and staff with a walk-in clinic in the center of Rome, near the Spanish Steps, and house call service.
They can be conveniently contacted 24/7 by Whatsapp, SMS, Email, and Facebook. If need be, they can assist with hospitalization. EHIC card only covers public service, but they accept many international insurances and their fees are listed on their website.
Via Frattina, 48 – third floor
How the health card EHIC is used
Unfortunately, many doctors and pharmacies have no experience with the European Health Card EHIC and do not know how to use it.
We have therefore prepared a sample that you may be able to show to the doctor.
The front page of the prescription is issued as normal with the only difference that no Italian tax code is entered. Instead, the data of the health card EHIC are entered on the back of the prescription.
So on the back come the data of the health card. In the first line comes the code and name of your insurance as well as the code of the state. In the second line come your insurance number and your date of birth. The third line contains the identification number of the card and the validity period. You have to sign twice, once to confirm the card details, and a second time to confirm that you have received the service.
A prescription is given to the doctor to confirm his performance. He will hand you over any further prescriptions. The doctor also needs a photocopy of your health card.
Unfortunately, many pharmacies have no experience with the European health card. You should declare that you only have to pay the ticket, that is the prescription fee. So you say “devo pagare solo il ticket”. If the pharmacist does not accept this, you may have to pay for the medication and then you can request reimbursement from your health insurance.
Dentist in Italy
Dental services are generally private in Italy.
In order to receive a reimbursement from your health insurance, you should have all the services well documented.
If it is not an emergency, you should have the services approved in advance by your health insurance.
Chronic diseases and cures
The treatment of chronic diseases such as dialysis are not covered by the EHIC insurance card in Italy. In these cases, you should first make appropriate arrangements with your health insurance company and with the structure providing the service at your holiday resort.
Unability to work on leave in Italy
If you encounter an unability to work during your holiday in Italy, you are entitled to a refund. In case of incapacity for work, you must inform the employer or the employment agency immediately by telephone. In addition, you must send to the health insurance or
the employer or the agency for work a medical certificate of incapacity for work within one week, by fax or e-mail. The health insurance company can commission an assessment of incapacity for work in Italy.
Pharmacies and medicines in Italy
In Italy there are the “Farmacia” and the “Parafarmacia”.
The “Farmacia” is a pharmacy that sells prescription and prescription drugs. Pharmacies are marked with a green cross.
Also in the “Parafarmacia” a pharmacist must be present, but he sells only prescription-free medicines. Parafarmacia can also be characterized by a cross which, however, must not be green.
If you go to a pharmacy with the prescription of an Italian doctor, you will often be asked if you would like the original or a equivalent generic.
You will be asked „vuole l’originale o il generico? The generic has the same composition and the same concentration of the original product, but it usually costs less. The supplement to the prescription is mostly less or does not apply completely.
If you are used to a certain drug from your home country, you will not find the product in Italy with the same name. You should write down the active ingredients, composition and concentration. Often you find the same active ingredients, but with different concentrations. In this case, you must rely on the advice of the physician or pharmacist.
The pharmacy of the Vatican
The pharmacy of the Vatican also carries medicines, which are not available in Italy. Access is via Via i Porta Angelica, Porta Sant’Anna. In order to gain access, you must present your identity card and a valid prescription. For further information, call +39 06 698 89806.