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Healthcare in Italy for US citizens

A guide on Health insurance for Americans who come to Italy for different reasons.

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Do US citizens need health insurance in Europe?

One of the most common questions American tourists face when organizing their trips to Europe is how to access healthcare while on holiday. In fact, many wonder if their home health insurance will cover their medical expenses.  

To begin with, American tourists cannot access European healthcare while on holiday. In fact, this is an option only for permanent residents of an EU country. Therefore, it is best to set up a specific traveller’s insurance which covers medical-related costs while in Europe. Some private Americans health insurance may also include this service in their premiums, but it is advisable for tourists to check with their providers before departure. 

Healthcare in Italy vs America

Healthcare in Italy for US citizens is quite different. Therefore, it can be challenging for new US residents to get familiar with the in-and-outs of the medical care systems. 

To begin with, the Italian healthcare system is Government-funded. This means that many health services are either free or a discounted rate applies. Italian residents can be enrolled on a temporary basis, provided they currently have a work contract with an Italian company or are family members of a worker. This enrolment allows them to register with a family doctor, who acts as their main point of contact. Visits to the family doctors are free of charge; patients should reach out to him/her, to ask for medication prescriptions or visits with specialists. 

Do Americans need health insurance in Italy?

Unfortunately, Italy and USA do not have a shared agreement related to healthcare assistance. This means that there is no way to access the national Healthcare in Italy for US citizens.

Unlike the American system, it is not necessary for residents to have a private health insurance. Private insurances can be useful for visits with private specialists, who apply a higher fee than public doctors, but have a shorter waitlist.  

Some kind of visas, though, do not allow to register with the public healthcare system, like elective residence visa, or study visas. Therefore, holders of these visa classes should either set up a private insurance or enrol on a voluntary basis with the national healthcare system.  

What happens if an American gets sick in Italy

Healthcare in Italy for US citizens guarantees access for urgent care to tourists who are in Italy up to 90 days. Tourists will be required to pay a fee for the services provided, called ticket.  

Can an American go to the hospital in Italy?

Yes, American nationals can visit Italian hospitals in case of emergencies. Hospitals will perform all necessary tests and the tourist will have to pay for part of the costs. 

Can a US prescription be filled in Italy?

No, it is not possible to fill a US prescription in Italy. In fact, Italian pharmacies only accept prescriptions under the Italian format, signed and stamped by an Italian doctor.  

Healthcare in the USA for Italians

As mentioned above, the is no shared agreement between Italy and the US for healthcare. This means that Italian tourists should set up a private insurance with an insurance provider.

For more information, you can consult our guide on healthcare in the US for Italian citizens.

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Regulatory Framework

National Library of Medicine


Italian Ministry of Health

Reference (Italian only)

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