Italian medical coverage

Sorry it has been too long since my last post. I have been thinking about how to describe the experience of getting medical coverage here. I probably can’t get it across but here goes.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 8:30AM and 12:30AM the health department is open to enroll people for insurance. Susan graciously volunteered to accompany us. We arrived about 8:15AM and took a number. 65. I spent a long time looking at this so I thought I’d scan it in for posterity.


We looked around and the seats up and down the hallway were full. There was no place where the numbers were displayed to tell who was being waited on. There were several numbered doors. Only door number 1 was handling health insurance. Coincidentally Joseph and Paul, our American neighbors were ALSO there. They had arrived at 7:40AM. We hadn’t realized you could come early. SO there we all sat along with untold numbers of Italians and other nationalities. A Large Lady in a purple tunic sweater and black leggings, heretofore to be known as LL was taking people in, one at a time. I should mention that the numbers are never called. It was up to the people waiting to police themselves. Whenever the door opened whoever thought they were next would go in.

Joseph and Paul went in and when they exited related that LL had no calculator, pencil or piece of paper on which to figure out how much they had to pay for the insurance which is 7% of your income. A small gray haired woman would come in and out and run to the front office to use the calculator. Such inefficiency!

Time passes. The Italians around us were just as annoyed that they had to wait so long as we were. It was very Kafkaesque. I should mention that around 10:30AM or so the numbers in the machine ran out. People would come in and look at the machine with no numbers, look around the hallway, look back at the machine. The gray haired lady at one time announced that when the numbers ran out they were taking no more people. So as folks came in, someone would tell them they were too late and to come back another day.

After about 3 hours (!) we got to go in. LL is said to be the meanest person in Umbertide. She apparently spends much time screaming at other people on the phone. I had brought in the statement from my Social Security as proof of my income. Luther does not yet get his so we just claimed mine. Again, the gray haired lady came in, took the figure of the income, ran to the front office and ran the numbers. 1,065.22 Euro a year. There was an issue with our Permessi because they run out in June and the insurance is for a year from January. At first we thought she was going to tell us we couldn’t get the insurance but Susan explained that the Italians raise objections but generally that doesn’t stop them from going forward. I guess they just like to complain. So we told her we’d start the process of renewing our Permessi.

Now we were told we need to take the number of Euros we owe to the post office and pay it. They will give us a receipt which we are to bring back to LL. We are told we can jump the line once we have the receipt. We decided we would come back on Thursday to pay and then return Friday.

Thursday we head over to the post office where we take a number. When Luther went to the window the lady said we needed the bank account number that the money was to be deposited into. Wouldn’t you have thought that the LL would have given us a number when she said we had to pay at the post office? But no. So we went over to the health office. We could hear voices behind door number 1. Luther knocked. The door opened a tiny crack. LL peered out and told us to come back Friday between 8:30 and 12:30. We quickly explained we needed the bank account number. She closed the door in our faces. We stood there wondering if she was coming back. Well she did, with a number written on a torn scrap of paper.

We returned to the post office and successfully paid the money. We did not go on Friday so I cannot yet tell you we actually GOT insurance. Tomorrow is Monday and we will return to jump the line and see the LL. If she does give us our insurance then we get assigned a doctor who will oversee our health. The good news is we get to do this every year!

We had some fun on Thursday with Susan and Gary. We visited a winery but we had made an appointment so they arranged a tour. We tasted the new wine in the big vats. That was interesting. It was still cloudy because the sediments had not settled. Pretty interesting. It was actually pretty good and you could tell what it would be like when it matured. They provided plates of tasty bits of food to eat as we tasted the five wines. One white and four reds. We purchased several cases and headed for lunch in Bavagna. The man at the winery called ahead and told them to treat us nice. We had a nice lunch. Sorry to say I forgot my camera!

Today, Sunday we are off to Citta di Pieve which is a nice hill town. I will NOT forget my camera today.