We recently decided to exercise our right to join the Italian public health system. If we pay a small annual tax, we can get most any available health care for peanuts. It didn’t take much thought to realize our annual fee is less than the cost of two vaccines or a small portion of our private insurance’s deductible for other visits.
After a full morning last week of researching how the process works, we finally found which of the health offices covers our district and how to get there.
10am – photocopies of every imaginable document in hand, trek to health office by bus and foot
11am- helped by (surprisingly) kind and competent young woman on the other side of the glass window who tells us how much to pay at the post office for the annual fee
12pm- after five failed attempts at using ATMs to withdraw said fee and a few miles of extra wear on our shoes, we return home to our neighborhood to go to the most reliable bank we know
1pm- money in hand, stand in line at post office to pay the fee. Stop at home to make extra photocopies just in case, and travel back to the office.
2pm- learn we’re missing a document (a fiscal code — something like a SSN in the US) for Joy
9am- search on internet for office in the boondocks where they issue said fiscal code, print directions and take friends’ borrowed car in search of said office. Our arrival is delayed by a missing link in Google Maps, lots of one-way underpasses and unmarked rural intersections.
11am- find office and receive forms to fill out and three numbers (one for each of us, since we needed to make sure our address was listed correctly anyway)… told office closes at 12:45. Find out we may not have an adequate number of copies of our belly buttons (or whatever they’re asking for), but copier is broken and we’re in the middle of nowhere.
12:40pm- sigh a heavy sigh of relief to see our first number called just in time before closing. Papers processed after satisfying the lady with our pile of photocopies, and we’re on our way.
1pm- return to health office with new fiscal code in hand only to find them closed for the day. Groan.
10am- fourth trip by bus to health office in three days. Submit new fiscal code, only to learn it’s ummm… wrong. The code indicates Joy’s a boy. Sigh. Same kind worker decides to override the system and mark her as a girl anyway.
11am- we’re sent upstairs to room 8 with papers covered in bar codes to get our health cards printed out. Computer system is down. No go.
12pm- after following the worker’s advice and getting a coffee next door, we come back to find a line forming of unhappy people in the same dilemma. Eventually worker advises us to come back another day.
Hopefully we’ll have our cards. Then we can actually go meet the doctors we chose off a list at random to see how the system really works. Thankfully the lady with the broken computer gave us a form to fill out delegating one of us to be the other’s representative so we don’t BOTH have to spend a fourth day on this chase.
Then next week we can wait in line again at the office on the edge of town to get Joy’s code fixed to indicate she’s a girl.