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Health care system in Italy - Statistics & Facts

Italy's health care system is a national health service based in regions. The system provides universal coverage free of charge for all Italian citizens, as well as foreign citizens living in the country with a regular permit. The national healthcare system (in Italian, Servizio Sanitario Nazionale - SSN) is mainly funded through national and regional taxes, supplemented by private expenditure and insurance schemes. In 2020, total health expenditure in Italy accounted for 9.7 percent of the country’s GDP. Public funding made up approximately three-quarters of total health care spending.

Health care system & professionals

While the central government provides guidelines, setting the fundamental principles and standards of the health care system, the regions are responsible for allocating and managing the resources, as well as for providing and promoting health care services. The fact that the system is, to some extent, decentralized, however, leads to great disparities in the quality and the accessibility of health services across regions. Despite this, the majority of Italians are satisfied with the national health services, and have a high level of trust in the system as a whole, and in particular in family doctors. Family doctors, or General Practitioners (GP), represent the first link between patients and the national health system (for individuals under the age of 16 this link is represented by pediatricians). Italy also boasts being one of the countries with the highest density of doctors, with an average of 4 physicians per 1,000 population.

Hospitals

When it comes to managing hospitals, public funds are allocated by regional health units to public and accredited private hospitals. The majority of hospitals in Italy are public and are either managed directly by local health units or operate as semi-independent public enterprises. In recent years, the number of hospitals has decreased, which, as a consequence, led to a decrease in the number of beds. In spite of this, the large majority of Italians are still satisfied with the medical care they received at hospitals. Regardless of regional disparities, structural issues and cuts in funding, the system has proved to be resilient and Italy is listed among the countries with one of the best health care systems worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, however, has put the system under considerable pressure with Italy being one of the countries hardest hit.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 44 most important statistics relating to "Health care system in Italy".

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