Is it easy to get medical help in Italy.?

Is it easy to get medical help in Italy.?

Italy is renowned for its rich history, stunning landmarks and delectable culinary experiences. However, it’s also important to consider the practicalities of traveling, and one of the frequent queries made by potential visitors is: 'Is it easy to get medical help in Italy?' The answer is a resounding yes. Italy has an extensive healthcare system acknowledged as one of the best in the world, and travelers can rest assured knowing that they will have easy access to medical help when needed. In this guide, we shed light on the Italian healthcare system, emergency services, pharmacies, and essential tips to keep in mind.

The Italian Healthcare System

A World Health Organization report ranked Italy's healthcare system as the second best in the world, following France. Public healthcare in Italy is provided to everyone, including tourists, either free of charge or for a small fee. This is universally accessible as it is funded through a national health insurance scheme.

Emergency Medical Services

In the event of an emergency, Italy provides comprehensive care through its well-coordinated network of emergency services. Dialing 118 connects you to the emergency health service hotline, which is free of charge and available 24/7 throughout Italy. English-speaking operators are usually available, ensuring that tourists have a responsive and accessible channel for urgent medical help.

Italy's cities and larger towns are well-equipped with general and specialized hospitals ready for any emergencies. In smaller towns and rural areas, they may not have the same level of specialized care, but general medical help is always within reach.

Pharmacies in Italy

Italy has an abundance of pharmacies ("Farmacia" in Italian). Distinguished by their green crosses, they can be found in every city, town, and village. These pharmacies are well-stocked with both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Pharmacists in Italy are highly qualified and can dispense advice and treatments for minor ailments. Although not all pharmacy staff may be fluent in English, major cities and tourist areas generally have staff who can communicate effectively in English.

Health Insurance and EHIC

Before embarking on your travels to Italy, it's essential to ensure that your health insurance covers international travel. An even better option for EU citizens is to carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card grants EU citizens the ability to access necessary healthcare services for free or at a reduced cost. Please note that while EHIC does cover many healthcare costs, it will not cover private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country or lost/stolen property.

Tips on Navigating the Italian Healthcare System

Despite the comprehensive healthcare system, here are some useful insights to keep in mind when seeking medical help in Italy:

  • Private healthcare in Italy is also of a high standard and may offer quicker service than public hospitals. However, they are more expensive, highlighting the importance of a good travel health insurance plan.
  • In non-emergency situations, you can seek medical help from local general practitioners ("Medico" in Italian) many of whom often speak English in major cities. In rural areas, you might have to use a translator.
  • Pharmacies in Italy operate on a rota system to ensure there is always one open in every area, even on Sundays and public holidays. Look for signs in the pharmacy windows indicating which nearby pharmacy is on duty ("Farmacia di Turno").
  • Some medications you are used to getting over the counter may require a prescription in Italy and vice versa. Make sure you know the generic names for any prescription drugs you might need, as brand names can vary.


In conclusion, getting medical help in Italy is easy and reliable. The country's world-class healthcare system is comprehensive and accessible even for tourists. As with any trip, it is advised to have a comprehensive travel insurance plan for your peace of mind and be prepared with essential know-how.

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