In order to benefit from Italian health insurance, you must be registered with the local health service, known by its abbreviation ASL, which stands for Azienda Sanitaria Locale. Foreign citizens are generally entitled to Italian health insurance if they have a residence permit, are domiciled here in Italy, and pay social security contributions. Insurance coverage is not tied to any work activity for spouses and children of the insured or EU citizens who have been based here for more than five years. Following enrolment, you will select a family doctor—or paediatrician in the case of children—from an existing list and you will be issued a health book. After a period of time, newly registered patients will receive their health card (tessera sanitaria or Gesundheitskarte) in the mail. This card entitles the holder to medical services not only within Italy but also in the rest of the European Union; the same card will serve as a verification of your tax number (codice fiscale or Steuernummer), which is stored on a bar code and magnetic strip.
Anyone who does not qualify to register with the Italian National Health Service and who is not insured in his or her country of origin must take out private health insurance. There are certain groups—students for example—that have the option of voluntarily paying an annual premium in order to be insured by the Italian National Health Service.