Healthcare in Italy: Coronavirus and beyond

| March 26, 2020

health in Italy

Can we still consider Italy as one of the healthiest countries on hearth? You may not agree, but we still definitely think so. Here is why.

Italy boasts one of the highest life expectancy on earth

You might like to know that the average Italian lives three years longer (82.9 years) than the average American for example for three main reasons.

  • 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 also 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. And it is very appreciated all over the world so that Italy is the largest exporter of its cuisine in the world.
  • 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 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.

In the majority of cases coronavirus hits elderly people more violently, especially those affected by other diseases. Given their high number in the Italian population, unfortunately the number of deaths is also higher than in other countries. But we can still claim that the Italian health system continues to be one of the best as claimed by Bloomberg in its Healthiest Country Index 2019. Just think that for example, according to the recent report State of Health in the UE – joint work of the OECD and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, in co-operation with the European Commission – Italy has the highest cancer-survival rates five years after diagnosis in the European Union, which means 90% compared to an EU average of 87%. In particular the rate for breast cancer in the peninsula is 86% compared to 83%; for the colon cancer is 64% compared to 60% and for lung cancer is 16% compared to 15% for Europe as a whole.

Also note that, although Italy still has the highest number of infections after China − this could be due to the high number of tests it made since the very beginning − this is happening more slowly than in other countries such as Spain or the United States where the number of positive people is growing very rapidly.

What to expect from healthcare in Italy

How does it work?

Normally all Italian citizens and foreign residents in Italy have more benefits, so for example they are entitled to free or very low-cost healthcare from the national healthcare system, which is known as the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale. So, if you are going to be living in Italy over a longer period it is worth considering enrolling into the SSN.

But don’t worry, all visitors to the country can expect free emergency care if they have an accident or become suddenly ill while they are in Italy.

Because waiting times can sometimes be long for certain medical procedures, many Italians sometimes also opt for private healthcare, so that they can have a specific treatment in a hurry.

European nationals should apply for a free EHIC card before travelling anywhere in Europe, to cover all the cost of any emergency, included the repatriation to their home country if needed.

Non-EU citizens should buy an international health and medical insurance before coming to Italy that covers the entire period of your stay in the bel paese.

Even in this critical situation, the good news for all those in Italy is that assistance is granted for everybody.

What about Italy’s standard of medical care during Coronavirus?

Many hospitals have been converted to Codiv hospitals only. This means that in addition to standard hospitals, there are others where only and exclusively virus positive patients are treated to rule out any possibility of contagion between them.

Secondly, many buildings have been turned into Covid hospitals and many new hospitals have been created this February and March.

What is more, in just a few days also intensive therapy in Italy has gone from 5,300 to over 8,000 intensive care beds (+64%). The same happened with beds in pneumology and infectivology also have gone from 6,625 to 26,169 units.

A range of textiles and manufacturing firms conveerted their production to fight Coronavirus all together, so they are starting to produce face masks and medical clothing. Also Ferrari for example is on track to produce respirators.

So you shouldn’t worry about your health on your next trip to Italy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *