The agency that administers the Italian National Health Service, the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) in Bologna is called the ASL – Agenzia Sanitaria Locale (local health agency), also known as Azienda USL or AUSL. You can call the regional Azienda USL’s free information number at 800 033 033 or check their website www.ausl.bologna.it.
REGISTERING FOR THE SSN (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale)
Citizens of EU countries can register for the National Health Service after three months of being in Italy, provided they work legally in the country, or are related to someone who does. EU citizens residing in Italy for over five years get access regardless of their work status and EU students can register for it too, even if they’re not registered as residents.
Non-EU citizens need to be duly registered and possess the residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) – more information can be found here www.guidaservizi.fascicolo-sanitario.it.
For the healthcare status of UK citizens resident in Italy, please consult the up-to-date information on the www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-italy and, even better, subscribe to their email updates www.gov.uk/email-signup.
However, health services are also available to immigrants who do not have the required paperwork, especially to mothers and children (www.guidaservizi.fascicolo-sanitario.it).
To register for coverage you need to first obtain an individual tax identification number (codice fiscale) (more detailed information in English can be found here www.agenziaentrate.gov.it). This can be requested at your local questura (police headquarters) or at the Ufficio Immigrazione della Questura di Bologna (for contact information check www.questure.poliziadistato.it). You may even be able to obtain the codice fiscale by applying through the Italian consulate before moving to Italy.
To finish registering, find the nearest central booking point, called CUP (Centro Unico Prenotazioni) or head to your local pharmacy for more information. For more details, please check www.guidaservizi.fascicolo-sanitario.it, for the list of CUP points in and around Bologna, where you can inquire about health services available to you and make reservations for various health appointments – check www.ausl.bologna.it.
The Emilia-Romagna region has recently introduced the online health folder, i.e. Fascicolo Sanitario Elettronico where you can find all your exam results, bookings and other health-related information. To register, download the app ER-Salute (www.support.fascicolo-sanitario.it) and follow the instructions (you must have the SPID in order to access this service).
When you register with the SSN you will be given a tessera sanitaria (healthcare card) with your registration number and codice fiscale. A plastic version that looks like a credit card with a chip will arrive in the mail. Your doctor may ask to see your tessera when filling out a prescription and you will have to show it when you make an appointment to see a specialist or sign up for other services.
CHOOSING A DOCTOR
When you sign up for the SSN, you will choose a medico di base (your General Practitioner) or a pediatrician for your children. Ask friends or neighbors in your district for a recommendation. In the absence of advice, you can choose from a list provided online by the regional health service. You can search by commune (municipality) and then use the map to focus on the area in which you live. Each doctor has a preferred method of scheduling appointments. Sometimes there are open walk-in hours, where you go and wait to be seen if there is an opening, others have a scheduling phone app, such as io.it, others might use email or Whatsapp. You should make an in person visit to sort out the particulars. If you move out of your district but still want to keep the same doctor, it is possible to do so upon request. Likewise, with a little extra paperwork, you may request a doctor in another district.
Here is the link to the online list: www.progetto-sole.it
Most doctors schedule appointments, but be prepared to spend some time in the waiting room. If you are used to having long conversations with your physician, you might be in for a surprise. General practitioners usually see many patients in a limited amount of time. They are adept at making quick diagnoses and tend to keep small talk to a minimum.
AFTER HOURS CARE
For non-emergency medical care after hours for adults and children, call the guardia medica (doctor on-call) www.guardiamedicabologna.it. These doctors are available for advice and for writing prescriptions when your medico di base is no longer on duty, and that is nights from 20:00-8:00; pre-holidays from 10:00-20:00; and holidays from 8:00-20:00.
This service is also available for non-resident foreigners or Italians (a small fee is charged).
Guardia Medica Ovest (West side – Saragozza, Porto, Borgo Panigale, Navile, Reno)
viale Carlo Pepoli 5
Guardia Medica Est (East side – San Vitale, San Donato, Santo Stefano, Savena)
via Filippo Beroaldo 4/2
PRESCRIPTIONS AND TREATMENT
It’s universal: prescriptions are written in hieroglyphics in Italy too. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor to clarify the name of the medication prescribed and the dosing regimen while in the office. Many doctors also schedule regular times when they accept telephone calls from patients with questions about medication or a health issue.
SPECIALIST VISITS AND TESTS
Your medico di base might refer you to a specialist or order diagnostic tests. You will be sent off with a formal request slip and it will be your responsibility to book your appointment through the CUP. There are about 150 CUP reservation offices all over the city. It is also possible to book online through eCup2000, or via phone by calling 800 88 48 88. Note that phone and on-line bookings are not accepted for many services. A comprehensive list of CUP reservation desks is available at the URP in Piazza Maggiore. Upon payment you will be given what is called “a ticket”. You must bring your ticket with you when you go for your tests. It will list the date and time of your appointment and may also include instructions for you to follow in advance of the test.
You will be charged a fee for most specialists visits and tests if you meet certain income levels. You can pay at the CUP office when you book the appointment or after you have received the services. Sometimes you have to bring your receipt to show that you have paid for the exam.
You may wait as long as a month to see a specialist or get a test done, even longer if you have requested a specific location or physician. If it really seems that too much time will elapse before you can be seen, book the appointment for the first available date without paying for it and call your doctor. He or she may say it’s fine to wait. If not, they will probably be able to refer you to a private clinic or specialist a pagamento (fee for visit). Tip: it is usually easier to get specialist appointments in August during vacation time.
NO COVERAGE OPTIONS, FREE HEALTH CARE & EXAMINATIONS
If you do not qualify for the SSN and/or do not have the resources to pay for private care, there are several clinics that provide health care coverage.
via Gorky 12
Free health care and help for non-residents in obtaining coverage under the SSN; SOKOS is an association of volunteers that has, since 1993, been providing free social and health assistance to immigrants without a residence permit, to homeless people and to anyone living in a condition of social exclusion.
Casa Della Salute San Vitale San Donato
Family Center for the Health of Immigrants Their Children
via Via Filippo Beroaldo 4/2
vicolo Alemagna 3
Basic medical assistance for refugees/immigrants/migrants, including specialist consultations in pediatrics, cardiology and dermatology. The service is free, no document is needed.
Languages spoken: Arabic, English, French
Open every day (including holidays) from 17:30-19:00
Salute Senza Margini
via Cimarosa 5/2
Casalecchio di Reno
Open Monday and Thursday from 16:30-18:30