The Italian National Healthcare Service (SSN – Servizio Sanitario Nazionale) is the Public, tax-funded medical assistance, organized and regulated by the Ministry of Health and administered through regional authorities. To access the Italian National Healthcare Service you must hold a valid Tessera Sanitaria (Italian Health Insurance Card) or the equivalent from another EU country (the EHIC card – European Health Insurance Card).
Foreign citizens with regular stay permit are fully entitled to the same rights and treatment as any Italian citizen.
Public healthcare is provided through regional health units called ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale – Local Health Authority) and Public Hospitals. In Rome, for example, there are six Public Hospitals, and more than 50 ASL offices.
The ASL is an administrative organization, which manages a set of public clinics and medical services (e.g. vaccination centers, public walk-in clinics, labs for analyses and imaging, etc.).
Public medical assistance includes a network of primary care physicians and pediatricians.
You will be asked to choose your public Primary Care Doctor (called medico di base, your personal doctor). Once registered with your public doctor, you are entitled to free consultations, referrals and prescription refills with this doctor, within his or her office hours. Make sure to choose a doctor who has convenient office hours, especially if you have difficulty leaving work to see the doctor.