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.