Italian Health Service – Understanding the Basics
I remember the first time my girlfriend and I traveled to Europe together. She was still a Mainland Chinese citizen at the time and as part of her requirements when applying for a visa was medical coverage, but it had to meet a certain list of criteria, such as a dollar amount of expenses covered and repatriation to your home country. This was the first time I had to research about these Italian Health Service requirements for my girlfriend and I kept a list of some of the top things I learned:
Italian Health Service: Socialized Medicine
While Americans are accustomed to their health insurance paying for some services, they often owe expenses out of pocket. These are not always collected at the time of service, but they will come due, after insurance pays their share.
Some tourists have been to the hospital in Italy numerous times, and the most paperwork they have filled out is a one-page form where they simply list their name and “tourist” as the reason for their visit.
Serious Medical Issues Are Different
In case you have a health problem that requires more intense hospital care, travel insurance is a wise investment. Some personal or group health insurance plans in the United States will pay for injuries or illnesses overseas, but many will not.
wwFor hospital stays in Italy, some care centers will give you a bill and then allow you and your insurance company to settle the costs. One notable exception is Blue Cross/Blue Shield. They do not normally cover illness or injury overseas.
Purchasing Medical Travel Insurance
Since most American insurance carriers will not extend their coverage internationally, you should purchase medical travel insurance before you depart for Italy. Having this coverage offers you protection if you have a medical emergency away from the United States.
Before you purchase travel insurance, get in touch with your current health insurance company to see if they have any coverage for you when you are traveling to Italy. If you are in Rome and do not have travel medical insurance, you may not receive a bill from the hospital or physician, or you might be responsible for all medical expenses yourself.
Also be sure to check to see if there are any requirements from the local consulate of the country you’re going to be visiting, they may request medical insurance from a particular provider.
My wife always uses Insure My Trip. They have many selections of specific types of policies you can purchase, even ones called “Shenghen” which is most of the European Union.
Speak to Human Resources, if You Are Employed
Speak with the human resources department of your employer to see if they have suggestions for companies who sell travel medical insurance. You can also use the website of the U.S. State Department to find a list of companies that sell medical insurance for people traveling overseas.
Compare Available Policies
Compare the policies available side by side. Consider the medical and accident coverage in each policy. Look to see what the minimum deductibles are, and whether the policy covers 24-hour emergencies and emergency evacuation.
Italian health clinics are available in all major cities that will offer you quality care without the same coverage you might need if you were travelling to a rural region or a developing nation.
Get a Quote from the Best Companies
Obtain quotes from the companies offering the coverage you seek. You can visit their website or speak to a representative by phone. The company representative will need to know your destination, travel dates and age.
Purchase a Travel Medical Policy before You Travel
Be sure that you purchase your policy before you leave on your trip. Your policy may also include coverage for trip cancellation and other types of travel coverage, in addition to your medical coverage. Make sure you have taken care of your insurance needs before you head off for Italy or other tourist destinations in Europe.
These were some of the best things I had learned when researching about Italian health service coverage for my girlfriend. Definitely check with your current medical policy if they extend coverage for outside of the US. If you need a visa, most consulate websites list the requirements needed. It’s just one of those small but securing feelings to have when traveling.