Italy is one of the very popular holiday destinations for the travelling British public, but when visiting this beautiful European country it is important to be aware of what your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers and what it doesn’t. While healthcare reciprocal agreements are a privilege for EU citizens, not all medical care is free, as it is on the NHS. So, for real peace of mind, make sure your EHIC is up to date and take out a single trip or annual travel insurance policy too. |
Comprehensive Advice on the EHIC in Italy
First of all, private health care is at your own expense, regardless of whether you have an EHIC card or not. If, however, you need medical care and want to see a doctor without it costing you privately, you need to look for one contracted to the state healthcare system, known as the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SNN). Locate one of these surgeries and you won’t need proof of your single trip or annual travel insurance certificate, only a valid EHIC card, and you will receive your healthcare for free.
When you are away on holiday, the furthest thing from your mind is the possibility that you or someone you are travelling with will end up needing hospital treatment, but unfortunately things do happen and it is best to know what you are entitled to if an incident arises when you are in Italy. As long as you turn up to the hospital with an EHIC, you will receive the benefits that an Italian citizen does.
Some hospitals ask for a co-payment, which is a small cost that goes towards the treatment, use of an ambulance and medications prescribed. It must be reiterated that these costs are minimal and they do vary depending on which region you are staying in and the extent of the care you are receiving.
Some Useful Extra Information
With regards prescriptions in Italy, the place to head to with your script from the doctor is the pharmacy, just as you would in the UK. Show your prescription alongside your EHIC and you will be presented with your medicine. Some medicines, particularly those that are not considered life saving do incur a small charge that is non-refundable with your EHIC, but potentially refundable with single trip or annual travel insurance.
Dentist treatment is not necessarily covered by the EHIC and will cost you, even if a doctor has referred you. This cost should however just be a co-payment.
Italy is a very popular place for foreign students to spend a year studying. If you are doing just that, make sure you register with the SNN, as the EHIC only covers you for a 3 month stay and no longer. Registering is easy and very necessary. You should also invest in annual travel insurance.
Many people choose to take elderly relatives on holiday to Italy where they can indulge in a little ‘bella vita’. The weather can be wonderful and the pace of life is ideal for the more sedate. Elderly people can be a worry when travelling however, so single trip or an annual travel insurance policy is a must, especially as the EHIC does not cover repatriation.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore. We provide low cost travel insurance and offer a range of policies including annual travel insurance, single-trip, multi-trip and family insurance. For all your travel cover needs, InsureMore can help you in the quickest and most cost-efficient way.
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