Following the introduction of new healthcare rules that will come into force as part of Italy’s 2024 budget, Expats will have to pay an annual fee of up to 2,800 Euros per year to access the country’s state-run health services. This fee applies to all non-EU citizens, although migrant workers and asylum seekers are exempt from these new charges.
The healthcare charges for non-EU Expats are means-tested and so the fees will vary, depending on your income and living situation. The new healthcare fees range from 150 Euros right up to 2,800 Euros per year. Consequently, the cost of healthcare has risen significantly for many Expats, including foreign students, who have chosen to rely solely on the country’s excellent state-run healthcare system.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways that you can save money on your healthcare while living in Italy, despite the introduction of the new charges.
Visit A Pharmacy For Minor Ailments, Injuries And Complaints.
A lot of Expats and tourists don’t realize how useful the pharmacy in Italy can be. Known as ‘Farmacia’, these are small oases of good health and are conveniently located in every town and city in the country. Italian pharmacists, or ‘farmacisti’, are fonts of healthcare wisdom and are generally far better trained than pharmacists in other countries such as the US and UK.
This means that whenever you have a headache, a cold, or even a minor burn or injury, your first port of call should be your local Farmacia. You’ll receive expert advice without having to wait in long lines – as is often the case in the over-stretched hospitals – and get the appropriate over-the-counter medicines and guidance on how to treat your symptoms at a much lower cost than if you visited a doctor’s office. And of course, if the pharmacist thinks that you need to see a doctor or go to the hospital, you should certainly take their advice!
Take Advantage Of Preventative Healthcare Measures.
To help you save money on healthcare in the long run it’s always a good idea to take advantage of the various preventative healthcare programs that are available to you in Italy. In many cases, these preventative programs are free to access while others charge a nominal fee.
Some of the most effective preventative measures that you employ include taking part in Italy’s various vaccine programs, booking regular checkups with your doctor, and attending any health screenings that may be relevant to you. By embracing preventative healthcare options, you’ll be sure to save money but you’ll also be able to enjoy a much better quality of life by optimizing your day-to-day health.
Telemedicine – A Low-Cost Backup Healthcare Service.
In the modern digital age, telemedicine has emerged as an extremely cost-effective healthcare solution that you can access at any time from the comfort of your home while avoiding travel costs and in-person doctors fees. Of course, it’s not advisable to rely entirely on telemedicine and it will never entirely replace your local hospital, but it’s an incredibly helpful additional healthcare service that you can make use of at a very low cost.
Telemedicine services provide you with access to trained professionals who can consult with you virtually and help you overcome a wide range of non-emergency and chronic medical concerns. There are also lots of top-quality English language telemedicine services that you access in Italy, so you don’t need to worry about speaking Italian.
If you are planning to sign up with a telemedicine service, it’s worth shopping around to find a service that you feel happy with. However, some of the best telemedicine services for Expats in Italy include Doctors in Italy, Teladoc Health and Sanita Digitale, all of which give you access to English-speaking doctors and healthcare experts.
Prescription Drug Coupons, Discounts And Patient Assistance Programs.
Navigating the confusing, and often costly, market of prescription medications can often feel completely overwhelming. However, you can take advantage of prescription drug coupons and discounts at your local farmacia and also research if you are eligible for a means-tested patient assistance program, especially if you have ongoing treatment needs. These useful money-saving techniques can add up to serious savings over time, particularly if you require regular prescription medications.
Pharmaceutical companies regularly offer coupons and discounts on their medications to help make patient treatment more affordable and can sometimes give you massive cuts on the retail price. Furthermore, the various patient assistance programs can be a literal lifesaver for Expats who find themselves in financial difficulty while facing a costly medical emergency. These programs are often run by charity organizations, government agencies and even some local churches in Italy.
Generic Over-The-Counter Alternatives To Branded Medications.
If you need to pick up some medicines at the pharmacy don’t forget to ask the pharmacist if there are any trusted generic alternatives to the branded medicines. Surprisingly, you can make massive savings of up to 70% or more by opting for the no-frills, over-the-counter generic medicines instead of the branded names. Naturally, it’s essential to seek the advice of the pharmacist before you decide on using a new medicine to make sure it won’t cause a bad reaction with any other medication you might be taking.
Embrace The Dolce Vita And Let Food Be Your Medicine.
Italians have one of the longest life expectancies in the world. And while the high quality of the healthcare system does play a role, the Mediterranean diet is also bound to improve your overall health and help to keep your medical bills down. An authentic Italian diet is hugely varied, so regardless of your tastes, you can explore the delicious Mediterranean recipes that are suitable for both meat-eaters and vegetarians.
The health benefits of an Italian diet are manifold and have been shown to reduce the risk of countless chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats such as olive oil, all make the Italian diet one of the healthiest options on the planet. And so, if you embrace the Mediterranean diet you can enjoy every meal, safe in the knowledge that your health is getting slightly better, with every bite!
No doubt you’ve heard it a thousand times before, but taking at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day will do wonders for your health and even improve your mood and outlook on life. And so even if you’re not a jogger, or don’t like high-intensity fitness training, then why not spend the morning exploring the local sites and attractions – all of which will get you out of the house and improve your health while you take in the magnificent cultural heritage of Italy. It’s always worth trying to do a little exercise to stay in reasonable shape because even if you do get sick or have an accident, your recovery time will be much quicker than if you were in bad shape to start with.
Private Health Insurance – Shop Around.
A large proportion of Expats, particularly non-EU citizens, chose to pay for private health insurance. This gives you access to much faster treatment, without the waiting lists that the state-run system is infamous for, and the very best of world-class services and treatments. However, private health insurance can very quickly become very expensive. Therefore, it’s worth spending a good deal of time researching the various options that are available before you make a decision.
If you’re moving to Italy for the first time, it’s a great idea to contact other Expats – on social media forums for example – to ask if they could advise you of a health insurance policy that works for them. Some of the top names in private health insurance for Expats in Italy include Cigna Global, Allianz Worldwide Care, Generali Global Health and AXA Global Healthcare – but you should still make sure to do your own due diligence before making such an important decision about your health.
Affordable Healthcare Is Important For Expats In Italy.
Ensuring that you have a sustainable and affordable healthcare plan for your time in Italy is the fundamental bedrock upon which you can build a fantastic new chapter of your life abroad. Even though healthcare in Italy is far cheaper than in other parts of the world such as the US, the bills can quickly spiral out of control if you haven’t properly planned ahead. Fortunately, you can affordably manage your health in Italy by taking sensible precautions, sourcing a good insurance policy and by eating a healthy Mediterranean diet.