Monday, July 8, 2013

An American's Experience with Italian Healthcare

So, as you may have guessed from the title of this entry, my experience in Italy has been different from a lot of the others. I had the unfortunate experience of starting my abroad trip with a slightly severe health risk. (I'm much better now, thank you for asking.) I prefer to think of this whole ordeal as a new perspective, a personal insight into Italian life. However, I will first give a brief overview of today, Monday the eighth (just to keep with the times).

Today's journey started in our lovely classroom at AU Rome. We originally going to go to Campo De' Fiori to examine the open-air market, but we were advised that it was too 'touristy.' Instead, we went to a market at Piazza San Giovanni Di Dio. The market consisted of a conglomeration of stands that sold everything from vegetables, fruits, clothes, shoes, cooking supplies, and flowers. The vegetables and fruits looked especially delicious.
Vegetable Stands

Fun Fact: There was only one stand in the entire market that sold strawberries.

Okay, so now onto the original idea: Healthcare. The first official morning in Rome was a little traumatic.  I had no way to contact anyone except by email, which was hard to respond to in the early hours of the morning. Needless to say, I was frantic. I had known before entering Rome that healthcare in Europe was universal and much cheaper than the US. That didn't stop me from worrying about cost (I'm on a budget here). 
The Local Pharmacy
Turns out, here's what you ought to do when dealing with a medical problem. Contact your supervisor if you are not currently in the process of dying, or contact a director at AU Rome in case your supervisor is unavailable. They will contact the insurance company which will than set up an appointment for you to see a doctor. Not all health matters are free, contrary to popular belief, the doctor charges 130 Euros for a house call. That's how they will make a profit above the standard government salary. 
Actual Doctor's Office

If its an emergency, go to a hospital. They'll take care of you first, then possibly ask you for payment (thank you government involvement). I'm not entirely sure about the payment part because thankfully, my condition was not that serious. I think its quite wonderful how the system takes care of you. Unlike the US, their primary concern is your health, not how much everything will cost. Don't you just love that?

Essentially, I got a view of Italy that other students abroad don't get too often. A taste of what European healthcare is like. Hopefully next time, I won't need it, but at least I know what to do. 

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