04 March 2008

First visit to the doctor

La Dottoressa
Valerie had her first experience with the Italian medical system a few weeks ago and last week I plunged into the system. We both signed up for ASUR, the Marche version of the Italian national health system, in January and I was also in the system last year but we had no prior need for trying it out.
When we signed up for ASUR we had to choose a doctor from a list provided and we made a rather arbitrary choice based on the doctor’s location. I have had a problem with a toe and went to the doctor’s office on Wednesday but found that the doctor only has office hours for 2 hours each day and I arrived at the end of the allotted time. The receptionist was kind enough to tell me what the hours were for the week and I decided to try again the next day.
I arrived at the office on Wednesday about thirty minutes after they opened and there was already a line of about six people. When I got to the window they took my receipt I had from when I signed up with ASUR and gave me a number. While waiting I realized most of the people coming in were there only for prescriptions, they were being given the same short pink forms I have seen people clutching in various farmacia.
After sitting down I determined there were three patients ahead of me, the patient already with the doctor was in the office almost thirty minutes and I began to think this could be a very long wait. Fortunately the next two patients were in and out in less than ten minutes.

My number was called and after asking which door I needed to go to I entered the doctor’s office which was a room about twenty feet square with the dottoressa sitting at a desk with a computer in one corner, a filing cabinet, and an examining table against the far wall. The dottoressa was patient and asked about where I was from, why we moved here and what I did for a living. There was no inquiry into my medical history.
With a quick look at the problem with my toe she indicated I had no need for a prescription and I just needed to go to the farmacia, making it sound like I should have just gone there in the first place. She wrote out what I needed to ask for and out the door I went. She was pleasant and I think amused by il paziente staniero. No pink prescription form for me, just an “arrivederci” at the reception desk and I was on my way.
The total visit to la dottoressa took less than an hour and there were no fees.


Anonymous said...

Bryan, at least you had a number. In Greve, you went in, asked who was the last person and then knew your place in line. When the next person came, s/he would ask the question, you would pipe up and say me and so forth. But..the system worked quite well and really the wait was no longer than for us here in the US where an appointment is only for the patient--not the doctor to keep.

Bryan said...

Of all the people we have talked to who have used the Italian system we have only heard one negative story - we have a sack of negative stories from our experiences in the US.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I should move to a small town! The public health care system in Rome is painfully bad... I usually end up going to private doctors and paying because the lines and wait times for public health service here are ridiculous.
I guess that's one of the perks of small-town life.

Bryan said...

I think the health system is like many other aspects of Italy; it can vary from region to region and city to city.

Gina said...

So you are there on a long term visa... I didn't realize that you could access the healthcare system with that status. I know in most emergencies they will not charge you.

When you apply for the the long stay visa isn't it a requirement for you to have enought money to support yourself and not be a burden on the healthcare system of that country? Just curious.

Bryan said...

To obtain the visa we had to have health insurance, once we had our PdiS and residenza we could pay to be in the Italian health system.