While many people move countries due to their jobs and families, you might just want to move somewhere with some good food and a nice breeze. And if you asked someone to name a place which fit that description, they’d have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to not include Italy.

But if you’re looking to move to Italy, you might be wondering about some of the less glamorous parts of life – getting a job, opening bank accounts, or securing proper healthcare.

If you’re particularly interested in that last one, we’re here to help. For a quick summary of the quality of Italy’s public and private healthcare, you should know that it ranks second in the world (World Population Review, 2021), just under France. While you should always push for first place, second is nothing to sniff at – especially when you’re in a race with 194 competitors!

Read on to find out more! Or, if you’ve decided that you need some private medical insurance once you’re in Italy, check out our list of recommended healthcare providers. From there, you can request free quotes from whichever company suits your needs.

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    % of Italian citizens with health insurance
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    Average life expectancy (in years)
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    Average no. of days before surgery in public hospital

How does healthcare work in Italy?

What has Italy done to secure this number two spot in the global healthcare rankings? Well, as we’re sure you know, healthcare is possibly one of the largest and most complex industries on the planet, so to go over each and every victory the Italian healthcare system achieves would take months.

Instead, we’ll go over the broader topics that would qualify Italy to succeed in the healthcare realm, like the cost and overall quality of their hospitals and treatments.

Italy landscape

If fresh air was the best medicine, it wouldn't get much fresher than a Mediterranean breeze!

Is Italian healthcare free?

One of the biggest and most important questions anyone can ask about a country's healthcare is how it's paid for. It can be a huge weight off your shoulders to know that the medical bills won't pile up after a brief hospital visit.

So remove that weight and throw it in the ocean, because Italy's healthcare is almost entirely free . Other than very specific instances, like certain prescriptions, Italy's healthcare is universal and covered by their government's National Health Service (or Servizio sanitario nazionale (SSN) if you want to be authentic).

This coverage applies to natural-born citizens as well as foreign residents, and is paid for by the government, through taxes.

The SSN covers everything that the government considers to be an essential part of healthcare. This is obviously a bit subjective, so we'll tell you that the SSN covers things like testing, medication, surgeries, visits to the family doctor, and specialist treatments. You will need private insurance to cover other areas like dentistry and psychology.

And watch out for out-of-pocket payments, which are relatively high in Italy at 23.1%, according to Statista.

Healthcare in Italy after Brexit

It's not an exaggeration to say that there have been a few world-changing events throughout the past couple of years – with Brexit being near the top of the list. With all the ripples an event like this can cause, you might be thinking that you could be cut off from this amazing healthcare system.

Don't worry: you can still access state healthcare. It's just slightly trickier now.

After you've registered as a resident , you'll have access to the national health system. If you're employed or self-employed, you can sign up yourself and your dependents with state healthcare for free. This is known as iscrizione obbligatoria .

If you're unemployed or paying social security contributions, you may be able to register voluntarily by paying an annual fee. This is iscrizione voluntarily .

If you don't register with the national health system through either of these routes, you'll need private health insurance.

You can access Italian state healthcare in one of these ways:

  • registering with the state health system
  • using a European Health Insurance Card or UK Global Health Insurance Card, if you're only staying in Italy temporarily
  • registering a UK-issued  S1 form  with the Italian health system

This sign is universal – you can always find a pharmacy, even in Italy!

Health insurance in Italy

A stellar public health system is all well and good, but is private insurance still an option you should be considering? After all, private insurance still very much exists in Italy, so it’s got to serve some purpose.

Do I need health insurance in Italy?

Well, to be honest, the role private insurance plays is small, as you can’t opt out of the public system even if you wanted to. However, if you're looking to avoid wait times, private insurance is a good solution.

In fact, of all the money spent within the country’s healthcare system, private insurance accounts for a solitary 1%. 10% of the population use private insurance, including those who have it as work benefits.

 To put it simply, private insurance is a bit of a luxury in Italy. If you can afford it, by all means go for it, but the public healthcare system is designed to keep you reasonably well covered. 

If you’re the kind of person who revels in this luxury, however, then check out our list of recommended healthcare providers. From there, you can request free quotes from whichever company suits your needs.

Health insurance for holidays in Italy

If you’re not thinking of staying in Italy, but instead you’re just passing through on holiday, you might be wondering if you need to get some special kind of travel insurance to make sure you’ll be okay if the worst was to occur.

When the UK was part of the EU, British citizens could have easily gotten their hands on something called a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for free. Now that the UK has left the EU, however, there are questions as to whether or not this will still function.

If you have a card and you’re worried about it working in the near future, put your mind at ease. All registered EHICs will retain full functionality until the UK officially leaves the EU at the end of 2020.

But after that? No one knows. As mentioned in the BBC article linked above, the UK will need to negotiate terms with other countries when the time comes.

While the EHIC allows its holder to experience the full capacity of every participating European country, it’s possible that the post-Brexit negotiations will lead to different countries having different rules regarding how UK nationals can access their healthcare. We’ll update this page once those guidelines have been established.

You'll need to call 118 for medical emergencies.

Health insurance in Italy for EU citizens

But if you’ve found this page not as a UK resident but as an EU one, you might be looking for the rules regarding how you can access Italy’s healthcare system. If you jumped to this section without reading the previous one, allow us to explain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

This is a free system where you can apply for a card that entitles you to use another European country’s health system while you’re visiting. Since it’s free, you might as well get your hands on one if you’re thinking of travelling within the EU, since it could save you a lot of trouble if something goes wrong during your trip.

Health insurance for British expats in Italy

If you’ve been reading this article as a legal British expat about to be living in Italy, you might be thinking: “This sounds great! I’d better enroll! But boy do I hate dealing with bureaucratic red tape!”

Well, as long as you’re definitely legally allowed to be living in the country, don’t worry – it won’t take a minute. The second you get your residence permit, you’ll be entitled to use every last facet of Italy's healthcare system. After a quick sign-up process that can be done at any doctor’s office, you’ll be ready to go.

Like we said, you can’t even opt out if you tried – this forceful application of Italy's healthcare shines through in their willingness to enter you into their system.

Venice Italy

Even if you took a tumble into the Venice canals, their healthcare system would do its best to help you out afterwards!

How much is health insurance in Italy?

Despite how free and generous Italy’s healthcare may be, you could still find yourself disaster-prone and flush with cash. If this is the case, you might be looking for private health insurance, which, while not common, is understandable.

Average cost of private health insurance in Italy

You might be moving to Italy as an individual or alongside your family. These would obviously entail two different health insurance costs.

We’ll split them into two categories, since individual plans and family plans are usually two different beasts. However, the real cost of either will hinge on whatever you decide to include in your plan.


For a family

A family insurance package has a rough yearly cost of around 700. We say “around” because it obviously depends heavily on how many family members will be covered under the plan, but 700 is a good baseline.

For an individual

Italian health insurance has an average yearly cost of around 100 per individual. Again, it’s not essential, as almost everything is covered by the government but if you’re looking for that extra bit of safety, this isn’t a wallet-busting price.

In conclusion

Is Italy first on the ranking for best healthcare? No. Are they right behind in a tight second place? Absolutely. If you’re living in Italy, in the midst of moving there, or even considering it as a massive change of scenery, the one thing you don’t need to be considering is where you’ll have to go for your health needs.

And if you’re already on the prowl for private insurance before moving there, check out our list of recommended healthcare providers. From there, you can request free quotes from whichever company suits your needs.

Further reading

If you’re eager to read a bit more about Italy, here are some recommended articles:

17 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Italy

Job Hunting in Italy

Moving to Italy