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“Appointment” at the Police Station

March 14, 2013

In one of my first posts I discussed the paperwork and multiple trips to the post office for a residence permit. After all of the hassle and various taxes and fees I was handed a receipt with the time and date of my appointment at the police station. Well, my “appointment” was last week and as it turns out the appointment is not so much an appointment as it is a suggestion.

When I arrived at the police station for my “appointment” I had to take a number and wait in line for almost two hours. I knew that this was not going to be a straight forward process so I asked one of the students from my lab, Chiara, to come with me. When it was my turn we went to the desk and gave all of the required papers to the officer. He looked through all of them a few times and sorted them into piles. He seemed surprised at how organized everything was which was a surprise to me. Everything was going well until we got to the health insurance. Italy uses a public healthcare system and non-citizens need to show proof of insurance. I have a personal plan with Bluecross and UGA required me to purchase a plan through them because I was studying abroad. Despite being double covered, the officer refused my paperwork and wanted to “have my insurance certified”.  This of course, is only done at another office on the other side of town. When we got to the certification office they were closed.

Day two: Chiara and I met early in the morning so that we wouldn’t have to wait in a long line. She was determined to get things done and threatened to show her “Italian” side if she needed. The line was short and we were told that they did not certify insurance (that would be crazy of course) and the only insurance that would be accepted by an Italian doctor was Italian insurance. This insurance must be purchased via the post office and you need to have a residence permit to purchase it (until Chiara showed her “Italian side”).  In Italy, anything can be paid for through the post office. It acts like a money union as well as a post office. After we paid we had to go back to the insurance office to actually acquire the insurance. I’m still not sure why this office won’t accept payment directly, but they don’t. Depending on who you get, the deal for insurance changes and there is obviously much confusion around the policy. The second person at this office had a different set of guidelines than the first person (because I didn’t have a residence permit I only got 6moths of coverage for the amount I paid instead of a year. It didn’t really matter because 1) I will be gone in six months and 2) this is my third insurance policy. We returned to the police station with the “certified insurance” to find out that the entire Italian governmental web server was down.

Day three: I had to go alone this day because Chiara had a meeting. I was a bit nervous about this because the officer did not speak any English. This time he was ok with all of the papers. He had one of the other officers give me instructions. I was informed that there was a phase three to the process which will occur in about a month when they are done processing my papers. I’m not sure what the deal is because I had to send papers to Rome (and pay a bunch of money to do it) last month. I imagine the office in building thousands of paper airplanes per day with the papers that people work so hard to send there. Before I left the station I had to have my finger prints taken. This is an all-digital process. On one hand I was glad that I didn’t have to get ink all over my cloths but on the other hand I was disappointed that it wasn’t like the movies. This was also interesting because I had one set taken by the officer but then I had to wait in line to have two more sets taken. I’m assuming they will send one set off to Rome to stamp on a paper airplane somewhere but this is just speculation.

Chiara, if you are reading this, thank you!!!

I have always heard that Italians like paperwork but I have only recently begun to understand the reality of this statement. In the US paperwork and government agencies can be quite frustrating. However, I think the frustration comes from different things. In the US the issue is pure incompetence in the employees’ part. They “don’t know anything about that” and “sorry we (I don’t want to) do that”. In Italy, the system is the cause. All of the people we talked to were very sympathetic to the situation. The officer voiced concern about our schedules for the next day because he knew we would have to wait. The employees are also willing to work and be helpful but it always returns to “the medical system probably won’t accept your insurance (for no good reason)” or “this office isn’t allowed to accept payment”.

Number of offices visited and lines waited in by country

Number of offices visited and lines waited in by country

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