Healthcare rights include the right to general outpatient and specialist medical examinations, hospitalisation, vaccinations, blood tests, X-rays, ultrasounds and medicines. As a resettled person, registration to the National Health Service (SSN) is compulsory for you and your family members. Once you have registered, you will receive a health card as an identification document. You have the right to receive healthcare for free or for money. The amount to be paid is called “ticket” and depends on the region you are living in. To register to the SSN, you must go to the ASL of the territory in which you have your residence or dwell (indicated in the residence permit), producing the following documents:
- (i) identity card;
- (ii) tax code;
- (iii) residence permit;
- (iv) self-certification of residence.
At the time of the registration, you can choose the general practitioner (or family doctor) or pediatrician of your choice for your children. Registration is valid for the entire duration of the residence permit, and will retain its validity during its renewal phase of the permit and even if you have appealed against the decision not to renew or revoke it.
How can I access healthcare?
If you already have a health card and a family doctor and want to go for a medical examination, you can simply go to the doctor’s office. In case you need an outpatient or specialist visit, the family doctor can write a prescription (or “ricetta”) you will then have to bring with you at the hospital, where you will usually have to pay the ticket. To book an appointment, you can call the free number of the hospital or visit the C.U.P. (“Centro Unico Prenotazioni”) of the ASL, the office that manages all bookings for medical examinations. If you need a visit to a private practice where you will have to pay a fee, you can directly call the practice to book a visit. As for vaccinations, you can ask your general practitioner or go to the ASL’s vaccination office.
Primary health care is a service you have the right to freely access from the moment you register to the SSN. This service allows you to choose your general practitioner or pediatrician of your choice at the time of registration consulting a list of available doctors at the relevant ASL office. It also gives you the right to replace them by making a simple request. The general practitioner and the pediatrician of your choice can examine you and your children up to the age of 14 in their office or at your house if you cannot move, prescribe medications, analyses and specialist examinations, issue certificates and request hospitalisation if they deem it necessary. Remember that the choice of a pediatrician is mandatory if your children are aged under 6 years. Primary healthcare also includes the immediate assistance of a doctor at your house, which you can request at any time in cases of serious need, and the medical service provided by doctors who have an agreement with the ASL at night times or during holidays in independent facilities located in each city.
In cases of serious emergency (accidents, injuries and any situation endangering your life) you can go to the Emergency Room of the nearest hospital, ask for the intervention of a doctor by calling the free number 118 active 24 hours a day, or go to the nearest medical guard (remember to look at the scheduled hours). You should bear in mind that when you call the 118, you need to communicate calmly and accurately:
- what happened (accident or other);
- where you are (town hall, street, house number, telephone);
- number of people involved.
To do a specialist examination, you must ask your general practitioner to write a prescription which, together with your health card, you must then present to the ASL booking office of the territory in which you have your residence. Some ASLs have a telephone system that helps you reach out to a specialist and book a visit. Besides, you can also go to laboratories or private clinics located in each city if you need a specific examination. In both cases, you will have to pay a fee unless you fall into one of the following categories:
- (i) social pensioners and dependent family members;
- (ii) unemployed and pensioners aged over 60 years;
- (iii) disabled civilians with a disability of more than 2/3 or with an accompanying allowance;
- (iv) people injured at work and all categories of citizens exempt for pathology or particular conditions.
Nevertheless, there are some specialist visits that you can request free of charge, such as early diagnosis of cancer, non-compulsory vaccinations and tests to protect pregnancy. For further information on the procedure to be followed and the documentation to be submitted, you can directly ask the family doctor or pediatrician of your choice.
Where can I get medicine?
If you feel sick and need some medicines, you can buy them in one of the many pharmacies in each city. Pharmacies are easily recognizable thanks to a distinctive green symbol in the shape of a cross. Generally, you can ask the pharmacist whether you need specific medicines or advice based on the problem you have. If it is a serious problem, you will normally have to show a prescription written by your general practitioner or the doctor who visited you in the hospital in order to be able to buy the medicines; if the problem is minor – such as a cold, fever or allergy – you can buy medicines without prescription. It is important to know only a few pharmacies are open 24 hours a day, while most have variable hours (09:00 – 13:00; 15:30 – 19:30).
Further Information and Links
List of Local Health Authorities (ASL) and Hospitals: http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/documentazione/p6_2_8_1_1.jsp?id=13
List of medical guards: http://www.abcsalute.it/guardia-medica
List of pharmacies: http://www.comuni-italiani.it/farmacie
Emergency – Via Gerolamo Vida 11, Milano phone 02881881 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
MEDU (Medici per i Diritti Umani) – Roma Via dei Zeno, 10 phone 0697844892 mobile 3343929765 email: email@example.com www.mediciperidirittiumani.org
MSF (Medici Senza Frontiere) Via Magenta 5 – Roma phone 0688806000 email: firstname.lastname@example.org