Medicine in Italy: how to get a health care card

Many foreigners planning to move to Italy permanently will need to apply for a local health card, known as a Tessera Sanitaria, in addition to undergoing the standard series of procedures. This document has traditionally been vital for any immigrant, and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it opens access to most services, not limited to emergency care.

The exception is for those residents who have already acquired private health insurance in Italy, since Tessera Sanitaria can only be used in the public health system – Servizio Sanitario Nazionale. Accordingly, this card can only be used in government medical institutions – both for examinations and tests, and for scheduled surgery or hospital treatment. It also provides free or subsidized drugs in pharmacies prescribed by the attending physician.

Medical card Tessera Sanitaria in Italy

Foreigners coming to Italy on a work contract, regardless of whether they are EU citizens or not, receive a health care card free of charge and compulsory. This also applies to pregnant women and immediate family members reunited with family. Other categories of immigrants – students, participants in the au pair program, etc., will have to pay 387 euros per year for this card. This amount may vary depending on the circumstances, tariffs and rates in force in a particular area of ​​the country, as well as the income that the employee receives. In any case, it cannot exceed 2,789 euros per year.

To obtain Tessera Sanitaria you will need originals and photocopies of the following documents:

  • passport or identity card;
  • a valid Italian residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) or confirmation that it has been requested, approved and is in the process of being issued;
  • Italian tax number (codice fiscale), issued by the Tax Agency;
  • a certificate of permanent residence at a specific address, which can be a special form filled out and signed by yourself;
  • a certificate from the educational institution for students and an agreement on the provision of services for those working under the au pair program;
  • in the event that you need to pay for the card, you must pay at one of the post offices (all data is entered into Bollettino Postale) and bring the corresponding receipt to the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale.

At the same time, you must be prepared for the fact that the procedure for obtaining a medical card in Italy may have its own regional characteristics, and there is simply no single algorithm of action for the entire country. To avoid misunderstandings, it is advisable to first visit the ASL office (Azienda sanitaria locale – department of the Ministry of Health), whose employees will give all the necessary instructions and name the exact price.

University Polyclinic in Rome.  Medicine in Italy

Despite the fact that modern digital technologies and computer processing of data received via the Internet have recently become increasingly widespread in Italy, this does not make the bureaucratic machine too agile. When requesting Tessera Sanitaria, all documents are provided to ASL in person and in paper form, regardless of whether it is a first request or a renewal of an existing card. There will be no need to visit any government institutions anymore, since the medical care card will be sent in a letter to the specified registration address.

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