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Poor Italians can’t afford health care. Wealthy ones go private



Something is not working in Italy, also in health services.  51.6 percent of Italians choose to have a service in fee-for-service healthcare without even trying to book in the public,” knowing that they will impact unacceptable waiting lists. But in theory, Italy has a public health service, like the NHS in the UK  or Canada. 

This is one of the most discouraging data emerging from the 21st Hospitals for Health report, sponsored by the Italian Private Hospital Association (Aiop) and carried out in collaboration with Censis.

Presented yesterday, it showed that for every 100 booking attempts in the National Health Service, “41.5 percent of specialist visits, 33.6 percent of diagnostic examinations, 55.4 percent of rehabilitation services, 21.7 percent of laboratory tests, and 142 percent of scheduled ordinary hospitalizations” end up in fee-for-service healthcare.

However, there is much, much worse: a significant share (34.4 percent) of low-income people who are forced to turn to paid services for urgent check-ups, examinations, and interventions. 40.6 percent of this group of citizens went directly to priva¬to, aware of the long wait times for blocked or closed waiting lists. And as many as 50.4 percent of those with an equivalent economic situation indicator (Isee) of less than 15,000 euros gave up other expenses to support health care ones. Overall, 36.9 percent of Italians had to make cuts to afford care.

What is worse, however, is that a substantial share (42%) of low-income people who procrastinated care were forced to go without paid tests, checkups, surgeries because they were unable to afford them. If we consider that in the high bracket only 14.7 percent had to forego treatment; with income between 30,000 and 50,000, 22.2 percent did so, and 1132.6 percent of citizens in the 15,000–30,000 range, it is clear that the less you earn, the less chance you have of accessing treatment and care that should be guaranteed by the SSN.

“Erosion effect on wealth” and “social regressiveness” are the result of the decades-long depo¬tentiation of the National Health System,with dramatic consequences on the health status of the groups that should be most protected according to our system.

We have previously presented the data on increasing poverty in Italy, but now the level is becoming dramatic. And none has realistic solutions for this problem, so hope is fading away.


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