Healthcare in Italy


how does the healthcare system work in Italy ? Is it efficient ?

What are the main differences between public and private sectors?

Is it recommended to purchase private health insurance in Italy?

Thanks in advance for sharing your experience !


There wouldn't be much difference between public and private sector over here Julien if it were not for the queueing, you can wait months for a test in public hospitals but the service is generally efficient, with a quick search you can find what is the best in its sector, an hospital could be excellent for surgery but not for pregnancy... The only thing I warmly recommend to avoid in public sector is the dentist, because of the huge differences in salaries good dentists only work in private studios, but don't take it for granted, a chat with a neighbour of yours can solve your doubts, good doctors are very famous in their ''quartiere''


In order to help expats and soon-to-be expats, we would like to invite you to share your experience on this topic, with updated info on the healthcare system.

Thank you in advance,

Julie Team

Hi please I'm from Egypt and I have to come to Italy with my husband and I'm pregnant and I'll have a baby in first of august what about the hospital there in Milano. And what about the health care for mother and baby?

Hello! Thanks for asking, well I always go to private heatlh cares simply because:

I don't want to wait for a long time appointment in public health care. I worked as live-in service crew, my time is precious when I have my day offs I really mean rests. I am fed-up with the long waiting in public offices. Even if I will pay for the check-up at list I have known it faster, there will be no more sleepless nights thinking of the results. If you asked me how is their service? It is absolutely good.

I have found public healthcare to be wonderful. I have had several visits to my primary care doctor and a 5 day stay in the hospital after surgery. I not only had good health care but the staff at the hospital was wonderful to me.  I have not had private healthcare here but I have not needed it.

I have not had log waiting times. ...unless you consider 30 minutes being too long. I have had to wait for my results long than I thought was necessary.

I am told that the hospitals in Milano (in the North) are the best there are.


Well, the first word that popped out to me in your question was "efficient." This is a word that's seldom (if ever) associated with anything in Italy.

HOWEVER, being from the US, I must say that the Italian system works. Not perfectly, and certainly not efficiently. But it works much better than the US "system" (such that it is).

With regards to private vs. public, it matters where you live. As a very general rule of thumb, the public care in the big cities of the North are quite good. For some non-critical procedures, you may have to wait for days/weeks/months, but they'll take good care of you.

You must be a legal resident with a permesso di soggiorno, codice fiscales, etc. to participate in the state system. If you don't qualify for automatic enrollment, you can opt-in at a reasonable rate. Or as you suggested, just buy private insurance if you want more peace of mind. My policy costs about 1,300 per year.

Read my entire experience here:



I can only give an opinion based on my own experiences but, I'll try.
I spent most of my life in the US, a brief period of time in the Persian Gulf, a couple years in Southeast Asia and a few months in the UK.  I have never experienced anything unsatisfactory with the Italian healthcare system other than 'creature comforts' and the possibility of long waiting lists for specialist exams.  The pediatric staff and others I have encountered all seem extremely competent and give no indication of being less professional or capable of caring for patients than American medical professionals.  Hospitals and doctors offices are always well-equipped with necessities and clean, but the food is skimpy and it is not luxurious in terms of large flatscreen tvs etc (at least south of Rome, anyway).  When I go to an airport, I am more concerned with the competency of the pilot and integrity of the aircraft than how attractive the duty-free shops look and how comfortable the chairs are.
It seems Italian medical professionals are less pushy with pills than their American counter-parts; perhaps they don't get as many free lunches or other sorts of incentives.
If you go to the hospital, you don't get a bill in the mail.  However, some routine care is not free unless you are below a certain income level or have a chronic disease and can get a 'ticket esenzione''.  So, for something like an outpatient blood test you may end up paying in the area of 70 euros and you may pay roughly 25 to see a specialist.  Most drugs are cheap from what I know but I cannot offer in-depth advice on that.
As far as private care, I don't know because I have never had it, but have heard mixed reviews and gather that the main difference is convenience and comfort rather than actual competency of the professionals.
I do believe that American medical professionals earn way bigger salaries than their Italian counter-parts, but I get the sense that the Italian ones are motivated more by a sense of purpose--that it is more about pride or a passion in life than a paycheck. 
I do not want to cause anxiety but feel that I'd be wrong not to mention that recently, in a town called Cisterna di Latina, there was a Filipino child who was rushed to Bambino Gesu' hospital in Rome for some vomiting and headaches or something or other that turned out to be a rare incurable neurological disease, he was discharged way prematurely IMO and then went into convulsions at home and died in the helicopter on the way back to the hospital.  No medical system in the world is perfect or can prevent every tragedy, but I'm just saying don't let any hospital send you and your child home without undergoing at least 24 hours of observation and absolute reassurance that what happened at Bambino Gesu' with the Filipino child won't happen again.

I'm sure you both will be just fine in Milano.