Health coverage in Italy

Giovanni Apolone, Luca Lattuada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Italy, as other developed European countries, has a national health service (NHS) that, in principle, offers universal health care and coverage to Italians and other legal (non-Italian) residents who have full access to health care. Although Italy has always spent less for health care than other European countries (Italy, in 2002, spent about 8% of its gross national product for health care, which is approximately half the level of spending in the U.S.), the government's lack of control over spending remained the most relevant problem. To enhance the capability to control and monitor the system, mainly in terms of expenditures and costs, from the late 1990s to the present, new health reforms were introduced. These reforms were in the context of a wider change involving other politics and administrative aspects, with a strong push to decentralize the decisions and the accountability at the regional level. Now, each region has an individual Health Regional Fund allocated for health care, along with the subsequent need to implement regional and individualized strategies to assure the governance of the cost and quality of care. The National Department of Health now is solely responsible to control and monitor the delivery of the essential level of care at the regional level, and they have maintained the governance of the drug policy. Although the changes synthesized above will require a long period to be fully implemented, a few negative effects have already occurred. Nevertheless, all citizens in Italy will have full access to any level of care, without any restrictions, for complex and costly procedures (as no explicit selection/adverse criteria were implemented), and the current policy on drugs does not imply any barriers for people (as essential drugs are directly and fully reimbursed by the NHS, with a small copayment being the only intervention that may be occasionally implemented when considered necessary).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-382
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Ambulatory Care Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003


  • Health coverage
  • National health service
  • Quality of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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