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Paying Italian Hospital Bills

2 months after I left Italy I received a hospital bill for an emergency service (broke my arm!) It included a helicopter evacuation - turned out to be many thousands of dollars. I filed with my insurance company, and even though I requested that they pay the provider, they sent me a large check. Now I need to get it to the hospital. I'd like to send them what I got from the insurance company (which isn't the full amount.) Does anyone have advice on how I can pay the hospital - do you think they would be able to handle a personal check in dollars? I'm concerned about the relative safety of sending a personal check, and also about the Italian hospital bureacracy in processing the payment. Thanks for any insight.

Posted by
23464 posts

First, I would ask the hospital. I am guessing just that it would be just as difficult for them to take a check in dollars as it would be for you to send them Euro. Second, a bank transfer would probably be the best method.

Posted by
8293 posts

Why not contact the insurance company, tell them you are returning their cheque, and insist that they do as you initially requested, i.e., pay the hospital. Why should you be put to this bother?

Posted by
425 posts

I'm stunned: emergency medical service in Italy is supposed to be a public service without charge, even to foreigners. Is the hospital just trying its luck to collect from you? I would look into the matter more closely before paying.

Posted by
32264 posts

GAC,

I suspect the reason for the high charges is due to the key phrase in the OP - "It included a helicopter evacuation".

EM,

My suggestion would be along the same lines as Frank suggested. Contact the Hospital and request payment information. You might contact your Bank and ask what products they offer for International fund transfers. You may be able to obtain a Money Order payable in Euros?

Good luck! Hope the arm is healing well.

Posted by
23464 posts

Norma, the reason the insurance will not do that is because the contract exists between the insurer and the insurance company and not with the hospital. The insurer is liable for the bill, not the insurance company. I am sure EM would like the funds forwarded directly so that he/she avoids the exchange fees. Probably not going to happen.

Posted by
401 posts

I would strongly recommend passing this back to your insurance company if possible. In theory you won't be paying the hospital, but the health services of either the province or the region, unless you were treated at a private clinic. Plus most likely they won't be able to cash an American check, they would ask you do a bank transfer, so you need the account number, swift code, ABI, and IBAN, all information that the health department would have to give you. But either way, someone would have to call and get the info. I'm afraid sending a check in the mail won't work here. Go back to the insurance company and see if they can help you.

Posted by
425 posts

You are likely financially responsible to pay the expenses for the helicopter evacuation UNLESS the attending physician certifies in writing to the Italian National Health Authority that the airlift was necessary for a life-threatening emergency (which does not appear to be the case).

Posted by
1127 posts

Contact your local embassy/consulate for advice on how to make payment.

Posted by
362 posts

The Italians are not as lax as they used to be about things like this (collecting hospital bills). I always suggest trip insurance for this reason alone. Not for the trip or the accommodations, etc. but for the health benefit - if your policy doesn't cover you overseas and you have a real accident, it can be a nightmare. For example, Medicare does not cover you out of the country. Anyone who can afford the trip, should be able to afford trip insurance.

And for the Italian system - they probably would prefer a wire. If you have the hospital name do you have their account details, etc.? Or can you get them? Why not deposit the check and wire them the funds?