by Melinda Gallo

Signing up for healthcare

This morning I went to La Posta (post office) to pay for my health care. I feel like I go to La Posta more than I'd like. Most of the time people who work there seem to be just counting the minutes until they leave. Today, one woman just sat at her computer and stared out at the crowd. She didn't help anyone except one man that came up to her. We all looked around at each other trying to understand what just happened as we sat there looking at the numbers in our hand.

I thought I picked my number quite well until I saw a few people who arrived after me go before me. There are two buttons for numbers to pay bills. I picked one and it looked like I was only 12 numbers off. A man came up and picked the other one and it was at least 20 numbers off. He ended up passing me along with a few other people too. The past few times I've gone, I've stopped taking double numbers, but just today I decided to do that next time.

I tried to look less angry as I stood there waiting for my number to appear on the display above. Like Maslov dogs, each time the electronic bell rang we all glanced up in hopes to see our number appear in red.

After I spent over a half an hour there, I had to get to the other side of town to give the receipt to the health care office (ASL). With only an hour before the office closed, I quickly walked through town to the office in Borgo Ognissanti. It took me about 20 minutes to half-run there.

And, once again I took a number, but luckily I was only the third person in line. Luckily, I knew where the office was and where to go. I had already gone there before to get information about what I needed to bring and how much to pay.

When my number got called, I walked into the office where the woman greeted me. Same office, different woman. I unpacked all the papers for her: permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay), codice fiscale (tax ID), passport, receipt of payment, and the name of the family doctor I'd like.

The woman handed me a paper to fill out and asked me one question I couldn't answer. "Il tuo numero di telefono?" (What's your phone number?) And since I forgot my cell phone, which has every number I ever call even my home number, I had to fib a little. I tried to remember it, but when I got home, I realized that I inverted the last three numbers.

She handed me a paper card that she printed on the computer printer to keep and another one to give to the doctor when I see her.

I walked out feeling as if I've made great progress: I now am a part of the Italian healthcare system. Of course, now I have to do all this again for Dave. Since he didn't have a tax number, I couldn't get his done too. So, I'll be back and things will go just as smoothly.

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