Taking the Private Route

There are a couple variations to taking the private route. One is with clinics that are in affiliation with the National System When they do, they are in the category called Privato Convenzionato (Private with agreement). This means they can also be accessed with the Italian Health Insurance Card (Tessera Sanitaria), under certain conditions. If they have an Emergency Room (Pronto Soccorso) it is certainly accessible through Public Healthcare. The other is for those fully private. You may often choose these when you need somewhat routine things like imagery, routine exams and so on. You pick them because you typically get an appointment in a few days, and the additional cost is affordable. [Real examples: An Xray of an ankle cost 40 Euro. A regular mammogram plus ecograph cost 156 Euro.] 
You will be quoted a price up front. You will be expected to pay either before the procedure, or before you leave the facility. This may be a surprise to most Americans who are used to the idea of medical care costs being national secrets. You will also be calling to make your own appointments. You make find that compared to America the system seems a little spartan. The Italian healthcare system does not have the huge administrative overhead that you find in America. In the public facilities you won’t find little separate areas with receptionists to log you in. Often you end up in a hallway not positive which door. And when a door opens, everyone waiting shoves their documents forward toward that person. Don’t worry, you will get used to it quickly. 
It is also not uncommon to use a doctor who is under the Italian public health system but also provides private consultations outside normal working hours (Intramoenia). In this case the rates may be higher, but waiting lists much shorter. We recommend you check which type of rate applies when booking your consultation. You will usually pay for these in advance at the CUP (Centro Unico di Prenotazione). The CUP is the central booking and payment center. When you go in you will see a ticket machine like in the post office. You will want to one that says INTRAMOENIA. This will also get you called up to window much faster. [NOTE: Pay attention to the reservation form you get. It will list where your appointment is. Sometimes the doctor may have more than one clinic they are at depending on the day. Consult an Italian friend if you are confused.]
On the subject of private health insurance. Not many people carry it. If you are going to go strictly private, and you anticipate you will need to use it often, then it could be worth it. But we have found that the cost for even fully private care to be very reasonable. We are in the Italian system and if we ended up with something critical, we would be taken in quickly, and never receive a bill. I really see this a an excellent system. You can pay more for fast and convenient service, but you always have a safety net protecting you from being ruined by unforeseen costs. 
Finally, more and more of the Italian health system activities are going online (The health page has links to get you going) You will need an SPID to access. 

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