Being one of the lucky ones, my American health insurance covered me abroad so I was never forced to buy traveler’s insurance or Italian insurance. The main deterrant for me as a student was the cost. However, after receiving a permesso di soggiorno for work purposes I decided to take advantage of the free health insurance offer and sign up for the National Health Service (SSN).
Documents You Need
The exact process could depend on your city, but generally here’s what you’ll need:
- Codice fiscale
- Identity document
- Permesso di soggiorno (valid)
- Proof of address
- A list of 3 doctors that you would be willing to choose from
Where to Go
In Bologna, citizens are encouraged to visit the CUP (Centro Unico Prenotazione) for their first issue of the tessera sanitaria. For lost cards or renewals, citizens must go to the Agenzia delle Entrate.
In other cities in Italy, you may have to go to the Azienda Sanitaria Locale (ASL).
After taking a ticket (from the anagrafiche screen), I was directed by an office worker to look through an old, tattered binder of doctors names and choose 3 names. Only one doctor will be chosen for you in the end, but sometimes they aren’t accepting patients so you need to come prepared with a few options.
The process at the CUP is farily straight forward. You will need to present your documents and list of doctors the office worker and, at the end, they will give you a receipt affirming your subscription to the national health care service. Bear in mind that it isn’t always free. For students the price is around 150 euros for a year (149.77€ to be exact), whereas for workers it’s free. Another thing to keep in mind is that the tessera sanitaria expires at the end of the year if you are student. If you pay in November, you’ll have to pay the fee again in January. If you are a worker, your tessera sanitaria should expire when your permesso does.
As soon as you leave the CUP, you are free to visit a doctor. Just make sure you bring your receipt! Your actual card should arrive in the mail in about two weeks.