We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Italian National Health Service and the magic Tessera card

(No, this isn't the next Harry Potter book, although the title is a good one for it, and ... I could have used Harry and his wand on this adventure!!!)

Now that we've gotten completely through the incredible administrative maze which is required in order to obtain your health insurance documents here in Italy, I can sit back and write about that whole adventure. This was ALMOST as daunting as obtaining citizenship. Almost. At least we had some previous experiences to draw on, we were somewhat prepared for another nightmare. I don't know why, I just thought this would be easier. Ha, what was I thinking. I should have known by now.

I checked the phone book to be sure I knew the location of the office I was supposed to go to. This looked easy enough, the office was in the Ospedale (hospital), and I know how to find that. I gathered up all our documents, and off we went. Once inside Ospedale, I had to ask a few people where to go, finally one nice man took us to an office labeled "Communications". Oh well, this didn't seem exactly right, but we're game.

Inside, a woman stopped what she was doing to talk to us. She looked at my documents, and then proceeded to explain to that she didn't think we qualified for the health insurance. Not being able to speak alot of Italian was quite a disadvantage in this situation. Three times I pointed out that my Carta d'Identita says "Italian citizen" written on it. On the third try, she finally got it, at which point she became alot nicer. She printed out a map showing us the place we should have gone to, and also some additional information about the Tessera card. Ah, yes, the Tessera card. That was the end goal-- obtaining the Tessera.

This little baby is like having the gold wrapper of the Wonka bar. Once you have this Tessera card, you are good to go. But, we discovered, nothing is ever easy.

The next day we gathered up our documents once again. It takes a good bit of nerves to deal with these beaurocratic issues, and I have to gear myself up for it. I was ready--we headed off to the office in Dorsoduro where we had been redirected. It appears there are local offices in each health district, depending on where your residence is, and you must handle all of your transactions in the appropriate district. We needed to get to a large building known as Ospedale Giustinian. Once in the building, we found the main reception desk just as you walk in. Here a man pointed us to an office around the corner and down the hall.

We had to take a number, then wait our turn, along with the slew of other Italians on the bench. There are two offices here, one for making Prenotazione (appointments), and the second for all other issues relating to your Tessera. Once our number was called, we went inside to one of the counters and showed our documentation to the girl behind the glass wall. She didn't speak much English, but tried hard. What we got out of her pretty quickly is that she didn't think I qualified for the Italian Health Insurance either. Again, I pointed to the line on my Carta d'Identita that reads "Citizenship = Italian". Ahhhh... finally she got it, and became very nice to us. Bada bing, bada boom, she has typed a bunch of stuff into her computer, and printed out a paper card which she handed to me. She also handed me a copy of the plastic Tessera card I would be receiving in the mail. It's as if I had waved a magic wand over her. I love this Carta d'Identita already. After today I have learned to make sure I point out where it says I am an Italian citizen FIRST. That's the key.

A few minutes later, she did the same process for Mike. After all was said and done, we still had two hurdles yet to handle. A) we needed to return to this same office with the final certificate of residence documents for each of us, and B) Mike needed to bring back his permanent Carta di Soggiorno when he received it. Until that time, we had Tessera's that were only good for 3 months. Alright, at least that's a start.

Two weeks later, our plastic Tessera cards arrived in the mail, and we're feeling pretty good about having gotten this far.

Another mission accomplished, we're in the Italian Health System.


Anonymous said...

tessera means "card" so "tessera card" is redundant...
Enjoy your stay: Venice is my native city but, unlike you, I live in the US and shuttle back and forth...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
karen said...

Thanks, Aron! I'm still a neophite. Your correction is very much appreciated.

Gary and Peg Kirkpatrick said...

So are you still in the Italian health care system?

karen said...

Gary and Peg- Yes, being a citizen, I'll be in the system for as long as I am here, and I don't plan to go anywhere.