Moving to Italy for the purpose of changing your life? Is knowing about health insurance in this different country something that worries you? Then read on to learn all the information you need to stay safe in case you need medical care!
Many concerns go through our minds when it comes to precautions before moving to a new country – getting a house, looking for jobs, understanding how the country works, buying airline tickets, learning a different language…
Something that people sometimes forget is that worrying about health insurance is just as important as all of the above.
Italy is a beautiful country with wonderful cuisine, breathtaking landscapes and a unique culture! But know that the Italian lifestyle will come at a high cost if you want to live in one of the main cities like Rome or Milan, for example. But, if you leave the big cities, you will be able to witness that Italy has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world!
In addition to talking about some alternatives for international health insurance for expatriates in Italy, we will first comment on what Italy‘s health care system is like, the differences between travel and expatriate insurance, which of the various coverages you will need, and other information.
(Be sure to read to the end to be aware of the types of Italian visas and how you can start living or working in Italy!)
How does the health system work in Italy?
Italy’s national health service, Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), offers residents free or low-cost healthcare that includes access to doctors, treatment in public hospitals, subsidized medicines, laboratory services, ambulance and some specialized care.
Although the SSN is a socialized system, regional governments are responsible for managing it divided into provinces, resulting in a non-uniform standard of medical treatment in different parts of the country.
Public hospitals in northern and central Italy are known for offering better care than those in the south. So, expats may prefer to be treated in a big city like Milan, for example, in more serious cases.
Italian private healthcare, on the other hand, allows expats to avoid the lines and bureaucracy of the public system. Private healthcare is also known for offering more comfort and personal choice of doctors and facilities. So even though public healthcare in Italy is free for both expatriate and Italian residents, most foreigners and many Italians still prefer to pay for private healthcare.
Non-EU expats will need to have valid private health insurance for the expected length of stay or formally register with the SSN. Expats who have finalized their residency status and have an Italian identity card (carta d’identità) can apply for an Italian health insurance card (tessera sanitaria).
To obtain an Italian health insurance card, an expat would have to go to the nearest local health authority (Azienda Sanità Locale) and apply for the card, which will require several documents. This usually includes the expat’s residence permit, tax number, official identification and proof of employment, among others. Expats who wish to claim benefits for their families will need a certificate of state di famiglia, which includes personal details of relatives.
Upon registration, applicants must choose a family doctor and a pediatrician, if applicable. They are then issued with their Italian health insurance card, which must be presented to receive care under the SSN. These cards must be renewed every year.
If expats do not qualify for public health under the SSN or EHIC, they must have private health insurance. Expats in need of chronic or specialist treatment should also consider private health insurance for peace of mind, choice of treatment centers and comfort.
Do expats need health insurance in Italy?
Yes, if you wish to spend more than 90 days in Italy, regardless of your reasons, you will need to provide proof of health insurance when you apply for your visa.
So if you are planning to move to the country. We recommend you to insure yourself with one of the insurances I will recommend below 🙂
Bureaucracies and obligations can be annoying sometimes, but having an international health insurance plan gives you much more peace of mind. Even more if you consider that you’ll be in a completely different country, with a completely different culture, laws and language.
That is why, having international health coverage will make you much safer for any situation that you are not expecting or emergencies. Besides security, international plans have other benefits, which I will mention below.
As an immigrant in Italy, should I get an international health insurance plan like the ones recommended in the list below? Or should I get a national plan?
This is a choice that varies from person to person, as it can change depending on your medical needs and the coverages you need to have in your plan during your days in Italy.
International health plans should meet your coverage requirements in Italy. If you choose one, be sure to check with the Italian government embassy what the minimum insurance requirements are for staying in the country.
As I have never lived in Italy, I am unable to recommend or talk about the national plans that are available.
With that in mind, here are some of the reasons why you might prefer to opt for international health insurance instead of public coverage:
- Most likely international health insurance will have cheaper monthly fees;
- You can choose how long your plan will last;
- With international health insurance, you can cancel or extend whenever you want;
- International insurance offers coverage in other countries, not just in one country (that is why it is considered “international”).
Who do these international health insurance policies cover?
All international health insurance companies listed just below are for citizens living in Italy as workers, immigrants, expatriates or students from the following home countries:
- European Union (Portugal, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Sweden)
- United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland)
- New Zealand
- In addition to citizens of other countries
In addition to operating for expatriates/immigrants living in Italy, these companies also offer services for residents living in:
- Europe (European Union and United Kingdom);
- And any other country in the world!
Because they are international plans, they can be used by people of any nationality and anywhere in the world, because they have worldwide coverage!
Why can’t I get travel insurance when I move to Italy? What is the difference between travel insurance and expatriate insurance?
Travel insurance is a must for any trip, as it not only covers medical emergencies, but general problems on your trip, such as flight cancellations.
It should be noted that travel insurance is not ideal for expatriates and immigrants, because although you can apply for longer-term travel insurance, it is only for those who want a temporary stay in the country and not for those who intend to stay long term.
In addition, travel insurance does not usually meet the needs required by law for living in Italy.
Ultimately, you will need to choose a health insurance plan that specifically covers expats. This is where the list below will help you.
What are the 7 best health insurances for expatriates and immigrants in Italy?
Finding the right health insurance plan can be a real headache. That’s why we’ve prepared a comparison table of the best companies. That way you’ll be able to see the pros and cons of each one more quickly, and decide which one is best for you!
After the table, there are longer descriptions of each company, with their benefits, plans and more!
Besides all of the above, the best advice I can give you is: get a quote from each company before you make your final decision. It may take a little longer, but in the end you will save a lot of money!
|Medical Maximum||Unlimited (for the Platinum plan)||$8,000,000||The site doesn’t specify||Unlimited||US$1,000,000 per year||The site doesn’t specify||$1,000,000|
|U.S. In-Network Coinsurance||You choose. From 70%(100% thereafter) to 100%||100%||No||60% for maximum coinsurance and then 100%||Yes, for higher fees||Only in emergencies||Yes|
|U.S. Out-of-Network Coinsurance||You choose. From 70%(100% thereafter) to 100%||90% to $5,000 (100% thereafter)||Yes, for higher fees||100%||100%||100%||100%|
|Mental Health Availability||No waiting period||12-month waiting period||Co-payment of $25 per visit, waived deductible||75% up to 40 visits / 60% after that||No||Waiting period of 10 months||Depends on the plan|
|Mental Health Benefit||Inpatient and Outpatient: $5,000 lifetime maximum to paid in full depending on the plan||Inpatient and Outpatient: $50,000 lifetime maximum||Co-payment of $250 after deductible||100% up to 60 days||International and ambulance: limit not specified|
|Inpatient Prescription Drugs||$500 to paid in full depending on the plan||Up to $8,000,000||Yes||Complete reimbursement||Yes||Yes|
|Outpatient Prescription Drugs||None, unless you buy the International Outpatient Option||Up to $8,000,000||Complete reimbursement||Yes||Yes|
|Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains||Paid in full||Up to $8,000,000||Yes||Up to $25,000||No||Up to 10,000 euros||Yes|
|Accidental Death & Dismemberment||Depends on the plan||Rider available, limit depends on age.||$50,000||Depends on the plan|
|Emergency Dental||Paid in full||Up to $8,000,000||Optional||1,000 per year, $ 200 per tooth||Yes, however you need to pay an extra fee on top of your plan||Depending on the plan, it’s unlimited||It has coverage in the Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International plans|
|Treatment Necessary as Result of Terrorism||Up to the amount of the coverage||Rider available up to $50,000-lifetime maximum||Clause available up to maximum of $50,000 in lifetime payments|
|Amateur Sports||Unlimited||Rider available up to $10,000||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Routine Nursery Care of a Newborn Child of a Covered Pregnancy||$25,000 to $156,000 depending on the plan||$1,000 additional deductible, $50,000 lifetime maximum, $200 wellness benefit for first 12 months||Yes||Depends on the plan||Can be unlimited depending on the plan||Can be unlimited depending on the plan|
|Children born as a result of fertility treatment (such as IVF or surrogacy)||Only after the baby is 90 days old||Excluded||Depends on the plan||Excluded||No|
|Neonatal Intensive Care Unit||Check website for updated information||$250,000 maximum for first 31 days||No||Up to $250,000 for the first 31 days||No|
|Pre-existing condition exclusion period||Conditions that are fully disclosed on the application and have not been excluded or restricted by a rider will be covered as any illness||Conditions that are fully disclosed on the application and have not been excluded or restricted by a rider will be covered as any illness||Conditions that are fully disclosed on the application and have not been excluded or restricted by a rider will be covered as any illness|
|Pre-existing condition look back period||Any time prior to effective date||Any time prior to effective date||Any time prior to effective date||Any time prior to effective date||Any time prior to the effective date||Any time prior to the effective date||Any time prior to the effective date|
|Pre-existing annual maximum once covered||Unlimited depending on the plan||Up to $8,000,000||Unlimited depending on the plan||Unlimited depending on the plan||Full reimbursement||Unlimited depending on the plan||Unlimited depending on the plan|
|Pre-existing lifetime maximum once covered||Unlimited depending on the plan||Up to $8,000,000||Unlimited depending on the plan||Unlimited depending on the plan||Full reimbursement||Unlimited depending on the plan||Unlimited depending on the plan|
Attention: This article and table are made for informational purposes as the information contained here is subject to changes and updates.
In my opinion, the best international health insurance companies for expats are:
- Now Health
- Global Underwriters
- Foyer Global Health
Cigna is a company founded in the United States that has a big role in Europe. It is a great choice when it comes to international health insurance.
Having been in business for more than 60 years, the company has great recognition for its insurance and worldwide they have more than 170 million customers. My partner, Nikki, has already purchased a health insurance plan from Cigna to meet the requirements for validating her residence card in Sweden.
Cigna is a company with a wide range of plans to choose from, including expatriate-specific plans (which work if you are moving to Italy!), as well as individual and family plans).
As stated, there are individual and family plans for those moving to Italy. One advantage of Cigna’s plans is that you have the ability to add benefits to your plan according to your specific needs and the type of medical care you need covered.
You can choose between the Silver, Platinum or Gold plan, which has coverage in over 200 countries and territories around the world.
If you are looking for a cheaper insurance plan for Italy, the best alternative is Cigna’s Close Care plan. This plan particularly is the most affordable that Cigna has, because the coverage is only for your home country and the country where you intend to reside (Italy in this case).
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with Cigna:
- 24-hour service, every day of the week
- Flexibility should you need to make changes to your plan
- Coverage for COVID-19 and PCR testing
- No registration is required to get a quote
- It has its own digital system to find hospitals and clinics near you
- Cigna, for the most part, pays health care providers directly, without the need for a reimbursement system
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Cigna:
- Some plans don’t cover maternity
Another company recognized for its international insurance is IMG. It has over 25 years of experience and 3 subsidiaries around the world.
IMG also has several types of plans to choose from, either individual or for entire families, expatriates or travelers. You will find that they have the possibility of plans with long stays of 1 year or more, but also short-term travel plans.
Their website is intuitive and easy to navigate, with filters for dates, plan length, destination and more that make it easy to search. In addition to these filters, you can add your personal details such as age and specific needs for the best coverage.
IMG will then provide you with a detailed quote that allows you to compare plan options and coverage so you are free to choose what is best.
But when hiring your service, be aware of the details of each plan, as some do not have coverage for all age groups and not all of their plans cover Covid-19 needs.
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with IMG:
- Customer service 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Flexibility plans for different client profiles
- More than 17,000 physicians for support
Disadvantages of signing up for an international health insurance plan with IMG:
- Some plans do not cover COVID-19
- No coverage for people 75+ years old
Now Health International is dedicated to delivering an efficient, cost-effective, and readily accessible service, as implied by its name. The company places a strong emphasis on fostering positive customer relationships. They prioritize providing clear and concise plan information and promptly addressing any inquiries or concerns through their dedicated customer support team.
Now Health plans are meticulously designed to meet the unique challenges faced by individuals living abroad. Their goal is to provide guidance and ensure access to high-quality healthcare services worldwide.
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with Now Health:
- Customized plans according to your needs
- Clear information and excellent customer service team
- Provides coverage in 194 countries and territories
- Plans with high coverage routine maternity coverage
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Now Health:
- You must wait a 12-month grace period to use maternity coverage.
- In some procedures, it is necessary to use the company’s reimbursement system, which means that you would have to pay for your care initially
4. Aetna (acquired by Allianz)
Aetna is a multiple award winner and a reference in the field of international insurance. If you are looking for security and credibility for your choice of insurance before your move to Italy, Aetna is a company to consider.
They do not have a diversity of plans, but they do have flexibilities that let you add complementary coverage (such as dental care). Plans include coverage up to $5 million, depending on the case.
You can choose between family or individual plans, and may include coverage for repatriation and medical evacuation.
As an expatriate, I recommend the Aetna Pioneer. This plan has basic coverage up to $1.75 million. Just fill out a short form on the website to see an accurate quote and get detailed information about the policies available.
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with Aetna:
- They cover maternity
- Has an app that summarizes information and easy location of services and providers
- Short, medium and long term travel plans
- 24/7 care
- Pre-travel assistance to help with questions, such as vaccinations and regular use medications
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Aetna
- Low plan diversity
- Higher prices than other companies on the list
SafetyWing is a popular company that has recognition in insurance for digital nomads, as it offers health insurance plans specifically for remote workers and businesses, expatriates, and digital nomads.
One of SafetyWing’s biggest advantages is that their policies are a little more accessible and easier to understand than those of other companies. They cover, for free, children from 2 to 10 years old if their guardians lock in a plan.
Each plan has a specific cost that depends on the age of the person who signs up. The cheapest plan does not cover pre-existing health conditions, however they have coverage up to $250,000. But you are free to add pre-existing condition coverage separately if needed.
What I like most about SafetyWing is that the company offers 30 days of free coverage in your home country for every 90 days that you use their plans abroad, such as in Italy.
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with SafetyWing:
- Modern website, easy access to information and intuitive
- Customer service every day of the week, 24 hours a day
- 30 days of free coverage in your home country for every 90 days of coverage used abroad
- Coverage for COVID-19 and treatment recommended by medical specialists
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Safety Wing:
- The plans are not as comprehensive and tend to have less overall coverage than some of the other options on this list;
- Website prices do not include fees and taxes that you may have to pay
Global Underwriters is another company with a high popularity when it comes to international health insurance. They have programs that cater to immigrants, students, digital nomads, and expatriates.
For someone who is moving to Italy, I recommend the Diplomat Long Term or the Diplomat International Plan. Both have comprehensive coverage and generally include everything an expatriate will need in their new country.
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with Global Underwriters:
- Up to $1 million of medical coverage in the two plans mentioned above, and $1 million in coverage in case of accidental death or dismemberment
- All day, every day of the week client assistance
- The above plans have emergency dental coverage, medical evacuations, and repatriation of remains
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Global Underwritres:
- Diplomat Long Term does not insure travelers in Iran, Afghanistan and Cuba
- Diplomat International does not cover COVID-19
- Global Underwriters does not cover residents of Australia, Iran, South Dakota, Maryland and New York
Foyer Global Health is a major provider of international health insurance plans for travelers, expatriates, digital nomads and immigrants.
It is a company with a large diversity of plans, probably the largest you will find on the market, and it is also a reliable company (part of the larger European Foyer Group).
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with Foyer Global Health:
- The plans provide coverage for consultations, dental treatments and even surgeries
- 24/7 online or by phone
- Pre-travel service for vaccinations and first aid kit preparation
- Coverage is available for evacuation and repatriation
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Foyer Global Health:
- The coverage limits are not clear
For over 20 years in business, GeoBlue has offered insurance plans with international health coverage.
But GeoBlue only insures citizens and residents of the United States. So if you are not a U.S. citizen or resident moving to Italy, you can ignore this option.
GeoBlue has health plans for different traveler profiles, including immigrants. Xplorer Essential is the plan I recommend the most, since it is made for stays that took a long time, with unlimited coverage.
If you are looking for a plan for a shorter stay, try the Voyager program. It is very simple, you just need to fill out a form or contact a broker to get a quote and receive more detailed information about the plans.
Advantages of a health insurance plan with GeoBlue:
- Feature application such as telemedicine
- 24-hour customer service, seven days a week
- Some plans have coverage for existing medical conditions
- All plans have unlimited coverage
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with GeoBlue:
- Only available to US residents or US citizens
- Low plan flexibility
- You need to submit a form or contact a broker for information or a quote for plans
Types of Italian Visa to work, study or live in Italy
Types of long-stay visa in Italy:
- Italy Student Visa: is issued to third-country nationals seeking to study in Italy for a period longer than 90 days. Admission to a recognized program of study is among the main prerequisites for a student visa. In addition, student visa holders are required to submit their residence permit applications for stays longer than 90 days.
- Employment Visa for Italy: is granted to third-country nationals who are eligible to work in Italy under an official employment contract or binding offer.
- Job Seeker Visa for Italy: This is given to previous students who have completed their degrees in Italy and would like to return to Italy to look for a job.
- Italy Family Reunion Visa: this is the type of visa that can be obtained by third-country nationals who would like to visit their Italian family members residing in Italy. Applicants are required to prove their relationship with family members. However, application terms vary in specific circumstances, such as the applicant’s nationality and place of residence. Therefore, people seeking to apply for a family reunion visa are strongly advised to consult with official authorities in advance.
- Italy Researcher Visa: refers to the visa issued to visiting scientists or visiting academics from third countries who wish to engage in research activities at an established university or research institution. An official letter of invitation from the research organization with details of the potential research project is requested in this case.
- Italy Freelancer Visa: This is granted to third-country nationals seeking to go to Italy for self-employment purposes. The applicant is requested to provide a certificate related to the identification of the necessary resources to carry out the entrepreneurial, commercial or artisanal activity. Economic availability to guarantee the amount of resources needed in Italy is mandatory.
- Italian Language Course Visa: it is an educational visa given to foreigners who intend to participate in an Italian language course for a period that extends for 90 days. Confirmed course enrollment along with other documents is required to obtain this type of visa.
- Italian Student Internship Visa: These are required for third-country nationals who would like to undertake an internship at an Italian public or private institute. A training approval/agreement letter from your prospective employer and a work permit covering the intended term are included among the required documents. Internship practices that exceed 90 days must apply for a residence permit.
- Partnership Visa for Italy: the spouse of an Italian citizen with the passport of their own country who is not in the EU or the European Economic Area is entitled to apply for such an entry visa. The spouse of an Italian citizen can receive a short-term visa upon proof of their marital status through a marriage certificate and the spouse’s nationality, together with supporting documents. He/she must apply for a residence permit for permanent stays.
- Work Permit Visa for Italy: is given to third-country nationals who are considered eligible to work in Italy. However, Italy applies some quotes to the number of work permit visas issued by nationality and issues a link during certain periods. “Fluos de Decree”, which translates to a Flow Decree, is open for a few months each year.
- Relative Italy Visa: Relatives of an Italian citizen coming from a third country can apply for an entry visa to travel to Italy.
General Requirements for Applying for a Visa to Italy:
Below, the tourist visa requirements and application procedures for visiting Italy are categorized in detail. In general, applicants must submit their applications consisting of the requested documents to the Diplomatic Mission or authorized visa application centers in due course.
Keep in mind that the documents required may differ depending on the term and purpose of your stay, hence the category of your visa. Therefore, be sure to contact the Italian Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.
Visa Applications for Italy:
- A passport with at least two blank pages and is valid for at least 90 days after the end of the trip. Copy of the first page, including personal details and previous Schengen visas, if obtained.
- Completed and signed visa application form, along with two biometric photos that are not older than 6 months.
- Proof of travel with confirmed one-way and two-way tickets.
- Bank account details or document provision of sufficient means of subsistence, proving that the passenger can sufficiently finance their trip.
- Evidence of occupation in the form of documents certified through employer letter, student certificate, registration document or pension fund statement.
- Accommodation details via an invitation letter or proof of your hotel reservation throughout your stay.
- Documentation of travel health insurance that will cover up to 30,000 euros for the entire period of travel and is valid throughout the Schengen area.
- Documents that demonstrate the candidate’s social and professional status.
Depending on your employment status, you will need:
- Employment contract (original employment certificate indicating position in the company and salary)
- Bank account statement for the last 6 months
- Employer leave approval letter
- Income Tax Return (ITR)
- Proof of business license (company registration)
- Company bank account statement for the last 6 months
- Income Tax Return (ITR)
- University enrollment documentation
- School administration no objection certificate
- Pension statement documenting the last 6 months
- However, proof of financial resources is required
- If the person cannot finance their own expenses, proof of a sponsor is required.
What is Visa Sponsorship for Italy?
Students or unemployed/retired persons who cannot cover their own travel expenses will need to provide proof of sponsorship. The sponsor is requested to submit the information necessary to support the order. Sponsorship may be granted by a close member of the applicant’s family or by a host institution that will be responsible for the traveller’s entire stay.
In a nutshell…
These are the 7 best health insurance companies for expats and immigrants moving to Italy:
- Now Health
- Aetna (Allianz)
- Global Underwriters
- Foyer Global Health
Moving to a new country, even if it is a dream, is hard… I hope this article has taken all your doubts away and made the process at least a little bit easier! If you still have questions about insurance for your move to Italy (or any other foreign country), leave a comment and I will answer as soon as possible!
Planning your next trip?
Already reserved your hotel or hostel? If not, we recommend Booking.com. They have a huge selection of hotels and hostels all over the world. Plus, in most cases, you can cancel your reservation without any costs up to a few days before the check-in date!
Still haven’t booked your plane ticket and want to save big? Take a look at Momondo. It’s a flight aggregator that combines several other ticket search websites to make it easier for you to compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal.
And finally, will you need to rent a car during your trip? Then check out Rentalcar.com to search and compare car rental companies from all over the world in a single website. Then, you can find the cheapest price for the best car!