Foreigners who live in Italy will be able to use the national health service after paying a $2,109 annual fee, the government said 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.
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 to the system and regulations that we have,” she said.
Foreign workers, job seekers, asylum-seekers and unaccompanied minors currently have access to free health care, 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 more than $2,950.
Last month, Italy’s right-wing government sparked controversy by decreeing that migrants would have to pay more than $5,200 to avoid detention while their request for protection was being processed.