Italy to charge foreigners $2,900 a year for health service

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ROME – Foreigners who live in Italy will be able to use the national health service after paying a €2,000 (S$2,900) annual fee, the government said on Monday.

The charge, part of the 2024 budget adopted by the Cabinet, will apply only to citizens from outside the European Union, the Economy Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said there would be an unspecified discount for those with legal residency papers, as well as for foreign students and au pairs.

It was not immediately clear how far the reform would change the current system, which already foresees payments for some categories of foreigners.

Ms Giordana Pallone of the Cgil trade union told the Adnkronos news agency the reform risked falling foul of the Italian Constitution, which guarantees free medical care for the poor.

“We’ll now have to wait to see how the law is written, because as it is reported today, it has no value or basis compared with the system and regulations that we have,” she said.

Foreign workers, job seekers, asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors currently have access to free healthcare, like Italian nationals.

Other foreigners with legal residency, such as diplomats and students, can join the Italian health service voluntarily, for a variable fee.

For students, for example, the charge is capped around €150 per year, while for others it depends on their annual income and can go up to almost €2,800.

In September, Italy’s right-wing government sparked controversy by decreeing that migrants would have to pay almost €5,000 to avoid detention while their request for protection was being processed. REUTERS

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