Saturday, November 16, 2013

Italian Health Care

With so much discussion, anger and frustration about Health Insurance and Health Care in the US, I thought I would share my personal experiences with Italy's health care system.

As an Italian citizen, I am covered for health care at no cost under the public system, called, the national health service, SSN Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, it is administered regionally.Family doctors are paid by the SSN, must offer visiting hours 5 days a week and are limited to 1500 patients. The Italian system is a combination of public services and private services.  Any where along the line you can switch from public to private or vise versa.  The difference is not in the quality of care, but in how long you have to wait for appointments or tests or surgeries, etc. One can get private insurance, which we have not decided if we should get this or not.  Once the Stoic One becomes a "resident" he also will be covered by SSN.  You do not have to be a citizen for this coverage, as a matter of fact the system also covers "illegal aliens".

My experience. I had some vision issues, and was told by my doctors in the US to get to an ophthalmologist immediately.  I got an appointment that day at 8:00 at night.  I had a 2 hour exam, my eyes and retina are fine, and I paid 65E.  Another time, I had a terrible sore throat and Antonietta's doctor came to the house to see me, prescribed antibiotics and would not accept payment.

I have found the doctors in Italy to be attentive, patient, and kind.  I also respect their professionalism. I know that many Italians complain about the system here, but it all depends on your expectations.  In the states I had Kaiser Permanente as my health care provider.  I loved them and I loved my doctors.  I had major trepidation about the health care in Italy as I had had some health issues.  I now have no concerns and believe that if I have a health care problem here, I will be taken care of and I will not go bankrupt and I will continue to be covered even if I am sick.  What a concept!

Socialized medicine in the US is the pejorative term for Universal Health Care.  This is my second experience with this system.  My first experience was as a dependent of someone who was in the military.  Again, I had very good experience and I heard very few complaints.  It is strange what creates fear in us.  The unknown is certainly scary.  When I was going through my own personal health care crisis the Stoic One kept saying to me, what are the facts?  What do you know for sure?  In this current health care debate, I would advise my friends in the US to ask themselves these questions.  What are the facts and what do you personally know for sure.

Anyway, enough about that.  I am happy that I am healthy, the sun is out and it is a beautiful November day in Umbertide.

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