Italy: The Healthiest Country on Earth

| April 7, 2017
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healthcare in Italy

Italy is good for your health! Many of us whimsically suspect this when we’re enjoying leisure time in Italy, but in fact there is actual truth behind the idea. Healthcare in Italy is one of the best in the world and it boasts one of the highest life expectancies on earth (82.9 years). You might like to know that the average Italian lives three years longer than the average American for example. But why?

• Much of Italy radiant health is attributed to the Mediterranean diet, rich in unprocessed foodstuffs, fruit and vegetables, and olive oil – and including regular, moderate doses of red wine. It has been listed by Unesco as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. As a matter of fact Italians are in way better shape than Australians, Brits, Americans and Canadians just to name a few.

• The climate is on Italy’s side too, especially in central and southern parts of the country. Health problems that particularly trouble the elderly – such as arthritis, rheumatism, bronchitis and pneumonia – are all minimised by the benign Mediterranean climate.

• Furthermore, Italy’s slower pace of life compared to many other Western countries guards against stress and the manifold physical damage this causes.

As a matter of fact Italy is the healthiest nation on the globe as revealed by Bloomberg in its Global Health Index. They are followed by Iceland and Switzerland.

What does it mean for you? It’s likely due to the previously mentioned factors that Italians are assured of having not only a healthier, longer life than many other populations, but also a very efficient health system. This aspect is not to be neglected by those not yet living in Italy, but who are thinking about buy property in Italy and moving to the ‘bel paese’. Don’t you think so?

What can you expect from healthcare in Italy?

If you’re a fellow European, Italy’s state-run health system with its free-care-for-everyone philosophy probably won’t strike you as much different from the healthcare system of your own country. But if you’re from further afield, and notably from America or Australia, healthcare in Italy might seem quite different from what you’re used to.

So how does it work and what can you expect? All residents in Italy are entitled to free or very low-cost healthcare. Plus, all visitors to the country can expect free emergency care if they have an accident or become suddenly ill while they are in Italy. (European nationals should also of course apply for a free EHIC card before travelling anywhere in Europe, to cover the cost of any emergency repatriation to their home country if needed.) Because waiting times can sometimes be long for certain medical procedures, many Italians also take out some form of health insurance, so that they can ‘go private’ should they suddenly want a specific treatment in a hurry. If you’re planning on buying house and moving to Italy, this is something you should consider doing too.

What about Italy’s standard of medical care? Across the country this generally ranges from good to excellent. Anyone regularly talking to ex-pats living in Italy will hear countless stories of the superb medical care they have received, especially in emergency situations. Often the ex-pats compare this level of care with the inferior (or much more expensive) care they believe they might have received at home in the same situation.

Many older people in particular find that a move to Italy improves their health and also their affordable healthcare prospects. But whatever your age, this is a very healthy country to be in. Your instinct is right – Italy really is ‘good for you’!

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