Italian health care system

When I moved here, I was a bit worried about the local health care system. You know Italians are very nice people, but disorganized. I was convinced that health care system would be near a disaster. When I moved here, I still belonged to the Finnish health care system, so I had a small booklet with detachable pages that I was supposed to give to the doctor.

I became pregnant quite soon after we moved here. Therefore, I went to the local doctor that our property owner had recommended. Then I learned that usually you go to a private gynecologist that follows you through the pregnancy. During the first year, I really learned how the system works here. The local doctor got a big bunch of green pages because here a pregnant woman goes to blood tests almost once a month and the doctor writes the blood tests you are supposed to take. Then my son was 3 years old and had all the possible flues during that year.

The hospital where my daughter was born was old (after many years finally there is a new hospital at Como). I had a planned cesarean section and I have to say that the anesthesiologist was fantastic. When he heard that I am from Finland, he shouted “Forza Häkkinen”. My husband could not get into the operation room and I said to this anesthesiologist what a pity that I cannot have any pictures of our newborn baby. This anesthesiologist promised to take pictures. When I developed the pictures, I was shocked. He had taken photos when they were taking out my son from my stomach. I saw my own stomach open and the head of the baby coming out.

After a year, I started to belong to the Italian health system. I chose the family doctor (the same that I went to with my green booklet) and the pediatrician to my kids. Doctors do not charge you anything when you go to an appointment. Nowadays I call the doctor in the morning and explain what the problem is. Then he gives the appointment the same day or then he gives advices over the phone. Here in Lombardy children under 14 do not pay specialists, all free. Naturally private doctors charge and usually a lot. I find this family doctor system excellent. We have the whole family the same doctor. I can go to him and get receipts for my kids or for my husband. He also makes home visits if you are too sick to leave the house.

When your own doctor is not available, like late in the evening or weekends, you can call “Guardia medica”  and they come home to visit you or you can go to their reception. In serious cases, you can naturally go to the emergency room. Ambulances are free and so is hospital.

After what I have heard about the Finnish health system, I have to say that Italian system works much better. Not without a reason WHO chose a couple of years ago the Italian system among the three best health care systems in the world. Italians should be proud to have such a great system and excellent doctors.