Italy: The Healthiest Country on Earth

| January 7, 2020

Saturnia spa resort - Tuscany

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.

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. 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 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.
    • Healthcare in Italy is one of the best in the world.
      In 2019 Italy has been the second healthiest nation on the globe after Spain as revealed by Bloomberg in its Healthiest Country Index 2019. They are followed by Iceland, Japan and Switzerland.
      What is more, 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.

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. Don’t you think so?

What to expect from healthcare in Italy

How does it work?

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.

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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