Personal Finance

COVID-19 Impact on Italian Healthcare

How has COVID-19 impacted the Italian Healthcare system? As an American Expat living in Italy, here is what I've seen first hand.

Writing about moving to Italy during COVID-19 and my personal experience and resulting reflections on American Healthcare vs Italian Healthcare means getting… a few questions and comments. Some of which, do little to make me think. Like the rather scathing facebook comment from a man I’ll call “Angry Tim.”

After my Sister (one of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders – love you Sis!) shared my post titled Why We Moved to Italy | Healthcare Costs on Facebook, Angry Tim commented:

“We have socialized healthcare in Massachusetts. It works fine there… doesn’t it? And they don’t have thousands of illegal immigrants mucking up the system every day. All those countries mentioned are the size of Ohio. Anything can work if it’s a small enough system that can be monitored, regulated and enforced. But take 50 sovereign countries the size of the Netherlands, or Ohio, and then tell me how well socialism (or social healthcare) works. And by the way, none of them will be doing R & D, because that’s an expense and they won’t be able to make money at it, so costs will get bigger and services will be less, with NO technological advancement. Chris, what kind of bubble did these people grow up in? Talk about sheltered and zero idea how business or technology work… smh.”

Woof right. Pretty angry there Tim. Pretty offensive too. I found it hard to see past the insults to ask any questions or try and learn anything from what Tim might actually know. This comment did little to make me think other than Tim’s a rather angry fellow. On the flip side, other comments and questions have made me stop and think. Like this one.

“noticed you did not discuss the Corona Virus impact in Italy’s health care system. Please elaborate on the current Italian answer here. How well are the aged faring now?”

USFMAN

Now this is a good observation and question! Part of which was answered in a separate post where I shared my own first hand experience with the Italian healthcare system.

Still, a few days later now USFMAN’s question stuck with me. How has COVID-19 impacted the Italian Healthcare system? Can a national healthcare system like Italy’s hold up under the extreme pressures of the coronavirus pandemic? Will the government have to pass the costs on to Italian citizens?

As an American Expat now living in Italy, you can bet I’d love to know the answer to these questions myself. Good questions make you think and when I think I research. This is what I found.

Italian National Healthcare After COVID

During COVID-19 the Italian government introduced a number of measures specifically impacting the healthcare sector. Below are a few examples of the measures along with examples of what I believe to be related impacts.

From personal experience I believe it’s too early for the average Italian citizen like myself to know how COVID-19 will impact the Italian healthcare system in the future. Last month the Italian healthcare system returned to treating non COVID-19 related health issues. I know this first hand after having experienced my first Italian hospital visit after COVID-19 a few weeks ago.

How Italy’s Elderly Are Faring With COVID-19

To answer the other part of USFMAN’s question “How well are the aged faring now?” I have to look beyond my personal experience. I’m not yet prepared to call myself aged at 44. Instead, I look to Papà who recently turned 81. He might fall into the aged category but Papà is an inspiring example of what good healthcare and determination can do.

Papà has been monitoring and warding off the spread of cancer since 2006. Although his tales of hospital visits in April were full of COVID-19 protocols, he continued to receive testing and treatment as needed, in the hospital and with home visits.

It should be noted that we are in the Piedmont region which was the second hardest hit region of Italy behind Lombardy. Answers from Italians living in Lombardy, Italy’s hardest hit region, may vary drastically from mine and Papà’s experience. I can however only speak from my own families experiences and the signs of hope I see on the horizon.

Italy Coronavirus News

Roberto Speranza Italy’s Health Minister was recently quoted as saying “We are out of the storm.” adding “even if not yet in a safe port. I think we need to tell the truth, these have been the most difficult months in the history of the country since the Second World War.”

Last week the EU reached an agreement on an $859 Billion dollar recovery package of which Italy will receive $240 Billion dollars. As a new Italian citizen, what gives me hope that the Italian healthcare system will persevere after COVID is this.

“We have an enormous responsibility, unprecedented resources, but we must spend them well.”

Italy’s Health Minister, Roberto Speranza in regards to the negotiations that had just concluded in Europe

Italy is a country with a deep tradition of respecting and protecting its elders. If anything, COVID brought Italians together in the fight to protect the citizens, especially the elderly against a global pandemic. Masks were never politicized in Italy. Italians wore masks and still do.

While it is true that Italy was initially too slow to react to COVID, it is equally true that when it did react, the reaction was collective and effective. In my own experience as of today, Italian healthcare system remains affordable and world class in preventative healthcare. If I see changes in the cost or quality in the coming year, you can be sure I’ll share them here.

Follow ALOR.blog for More Stories of Living in Italy!

USFMAN is a fellow Ohioan, self- professed “nerdy introvert” and baseball fan who has recently wrapped up an American cross-country trip from Florida to California. You can read about his journey on Snippets of a Traveling Mind. My thanks to USFMAN for asking sit-up-and-pay-attention question.

6 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your research. It’s so hard to know the lasting impacts until much further down the line. How could anybody know? The Irish government has been suggesting that a “third/fourth wave” of the virus could come a year after it appears to have died down due to people who missed out on screening/treatment due to congestion with Covid-19 patients. These people would not be sick/dying directly from Covid-19 but from the indirect effect of being unable to see doctors during critical times.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this! It’s definitely interesting how a government healthcare system and culture go together, especially in a pandemic. I’m sorry you have ignorant people talking crap on your posts. You can’t have a realistic opinion on government healthcare systems unless you have tried it yourself

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    1. That’s my thought too. Thank you for the support. I’ve experienced three countries now! Canada, US and Italy. US is at the bottom for affordability but at the top for “patient experience” I don’t need a spa, I need healthcare 😂. You have experienced a few too correct?

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      1. Yes. I was born in the France healthcare system and personally experienced the UK and US healthcare system. My Mom was beyond happy with the French healthcare system, but her gynecologist was furious at having to clean up an American medical mess. The UK healthcare system does have some serious flaws to it though so my parents and I had to seek alternatives when it fell through. Now, the UK system is being privatized. I was furious when a friend of mine died of cancer there and experienced unnecessary suffering because of the privatization. I have been pretty lucky with the US healthcare system in terms of costs, but only because my parents and I were smart about planning for it. When I had appendicitis, we were on MediCal, so it was completely covered. Plus, I chose a good hospital that gave great care and didn’t charge you for taking a shower or whatever. Thank goodness or my treatment would have bankrupted us! I’m interested in what the Canadian healthcare system is like. I have two good friends who are chiropractors and they promised to guide me and my Mom through it. I think you develop skills with living in different healthcare systems and you adapt well and are able to get the care you need

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        1. Adaptation and flexibility are life skills that pay off in spades if you ask me. My experience with the Canadian healthcare system was positive. Medications were affordable, doctors were persistent with symptom and testing. Getting the initial general doctor used to be a challenge but that’s been changing. I felt safe with healthcare in Canada.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you for sharing your story about Canada. I agree that adaptation and flexibility are key for any expat. I can see what you mean about dr persistence there. I see the same qualities in my friends who are chiropractors

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