A little truth about the "wonderful" European healthcare...
Italians and foreigners in Italy prefer to take private health insurance coverage over and above those basic state covers. With a private
insurance, you can freely choose your own doctor and specialist and treated at private hospitals, thus avoiding for those long queues just to get an
appointment for medical specialists. Private hospitals in Italy have the best accommodations, comparable to those five-star hotels. Although with the
comfort and the quality of service from private hospitals, the medical care is very similar to those in public hospitals.
. Italian doctors are well trained and very passionate about their profession, and their private hospitals are comparable with any country.
However, there are some state hospitals in Italy that are very patchy, providing comfort way below what most northern Europeans and Americans expect.
These hospitals are normally found in southern Italy. To stay away with this, expatriates and Italians alike prefer to consider a private health
insurance to generally cover the expensive costs of hospitalizations and surgeries just to have the comfort needed and to avoid waiting on long lists
that are normally common on most state systems.
Poor facilities, long waitlists and the necessity to carry private insurance in addition to state sponsored in order to get better care. Sounds
I have a large amount of family in Italy, Italians not ex-pats and I can assure the assessment of the healthcare is correct...their government is a
shambles, it changes from Socialist, to something else to something else with every election. They had a terrible earthquake back in 1998...it took
ten years to get their state/insurance money for repairs....my family just finished their repairs the end of 2008.
I think their own words speak for themselves:
Principles of the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (Italian National health Service)
Every individual has to be treated with equal dignity and have equal rights regardless of personal characteristics and role in society
The individual health has to be protected with appropriate preventive measures and interventions
Everyone has access to heath care and available resources to meet the primary health care needs
Available resources have to be primarily allocated to support groups of people, individuals and certain diseases that are socially, clinically and
Effectiveness and appropriateness
Resources must be addressed towards services whose effectiveness is grounded and individuals that might especially benefit from them. Priority should
be given to interventions that offer greater efficacy in relation to costs
Any individual must have access to the health care system with no differentiation or discrimination among citizens and no barrier at the point of
In other words.....the government decides who, when and if someone gets service.
Physician Choice. Italians have limited choice of their physician but more than in the UK or in Spain. They must register with a general practitioner
(GP) in their LHA. For any specialist services, patients must get a referral from their GP.
Copayment/Deductibles. Inpatient and primary care are free. For tests, diagnostic procedures and prescription drugs, copayments are as high as 30%.
However, 40% of the population (e.g.: the elderly, pregnant women, kids) are exempt from these copayments.
Technology. There is a shortage of medical technology in Italy. The U.S. has twice as may MRI units per million than Italy and 25% more CT
Waiting Times. Waiting times are fairly long for diagnostic tests. The average wait for a mammogram is 70 days, for endoscopy 74 days. Tanner notes
that: “Ironically, the best-equipped hospitals in northern Italy have even longer waiting lists since they draw patients from the poorer southern
regions as well.”
Tanner, Michael D. (2008) “The Grass Is Not Always Greener: A Look at National Health Care Systems Around the World” Cato Policy Analysis no.
The Italian health care system is a decentralized version of the British NHS. Despite the high rankings by the WHO, Italians are dissatisfied
with the quality of their care. Italians believe more patient choice will improve quality, but “given the general dysfunction of the Italian
political system, and the entrenched opposition of special interest groups, substantial reform is not likely anytime soon.” Cost: Health care
spending rose by 68% between 1995 and 2003.
We need stop comparing freedom in your healthcare decisions to European Socialist government no-choice models....anyone who wants these no-choice euro
models is free to move over there....but do not try to convince americans it is the only choice to save our healthcare problems....