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Indonesia - Health Service
Public healthcare plans are offered free of charge only to low-income Indonesians. Foreigners are locked out of government-sponsored health insurance unless one is married to an Indonesian spouse or accepts permanent residency. Private insurance cover becomes the next possible option, and this in itself has a multitude of advantages.
Undeniably, the cost of accessing proper health care in Indonesia is very high. The top trained doctors are concentrated more in urban cities than in the rural areas. In addition, the further you move away from the big cities, the lesser the chance of accessing specialized healthcare.
As an expat, it is advisable to have international health insurance cover before traveling to Indonesia. You can still sign up with a local health insurance company as soon as you arrive in the country. You only have to ensure the medical insurance company is privately owned and legally allowed to offer their services in Indonesia. This way you are assured of quality medical care no matter where you are in the country.
Choose a local insurance company with great knowledge of the Indonesian medical care system. Such companies provide their clients with lists of doctors, hospitals, and clinics, within their areas of operation, where patients can access the best medical treatment available. In addition, choose a health care plan that includes emergency services like medical evacuations from rural areas with inaccessible roads.
Hospitals in Indonesia
Indonesian hospitals are either owned by the government, non-profit organizations, private companies, or the military. Public hospitals have a shortage of trained medical personnel and a scarcity of quality medical equipment. Doctors and nurses speak little or no English and language barrier is a common problem for expats seeking treatment.
Most Indonesian public hospitals in the cities will only accept payment in cash. In addition, you will be required to pay the full amount upfront before a trained doctor attends to you. The rural parts of Indonesia are covered by small clinics that only provide generalized medical attention.
As an expat, you can only access the best medical care when you opt for privately owned hospitals. Private hospitals adhere to international medical standards, are well equipped, and have trained medical staff who speak English. If your health insurance plan allows it, the local private hospital can also arrange for a flight out to seek advanced medical attention in other countries like Australia or Singapore.
Pharmacies in Indonesia
There is a big difference between pharmacies in the rural towns and the big cities. In the cities, you can find a well-stocked pharmacy in the malls, shopping centers, and hospitals. Some of these pharmacies are open for 24 hours a day and provide additional services like check-ups or treatments for minor medical cases.
The contrast is evident when you visit pharmacies in the remote parts of Indonesia. If you are lucky enough to find a pharmacy within your locale, there is a chance it is poorly stocked. The quality of drugs sold is also wanting, as most rural pharmacies are supplied with generics.
Lastly, not all drugs you find back at home will be readily available in Indonesian pharmacies. Thus try to get a drug with a similar function but equally effective in treating an ailment.
Vaccinations in Indonesia are voluntary for all foreigners entering the country. Nevertheless, as a safety precaution, you have to be inoculated against common diseases to stay protected as you travel around. It is important to research the possible diseases that require vaccination before you travel to Indonesia.
Malaria is a prevalent disease, especially when you travel to the rural areas. It is important to have malaria medication stashed in your hand luggage. Hepatitis A is another common disease and vaccination should be conducted two to four weeks before traveling to Indonesia. While you are at it, make sure you are up to date with your Hepatitis B vaccination.
If you will be spending a lot of time outdoors, get a rabies vaccine. A tetanus-diphtheria booster is important as well and should be updated after 10 years. Equally important is a vaccination against the Japanese encephalitis disease. This should be done 4 weeks prior to traveling to Indonesia.
Traveler’s diarrhea is not uncommon but there is ready medication for that in Indonesia. Only worry about typhoid if you are going to be eating away from the established city restaurants and hotels.
Personal health precautions to take while in Indonesia
Tourists or expat workers are always advised to carry their own drinking water. You can never trust the taps in Indonesia. When offered unbottled water, make sure it is boiled or chemically treated. Avoid adding ice to your beverages and only drink cold drinks pulled straight from a refrigerator.
Never eat raw, undercooked, or cold food offered to you if it is not from an established restaurant. This does not mean you should avoid enjoying the local Indonesian cuisine. Just be extra careful with what you eat or drink and make sure you have enough medication for travelers’ diarrhea or food poisoning.
You should also pack insect repellant cream in your travel luggage. It offers protection from common insect bites while in the rural areas. Also, wear light long-sleeved garments while out and about, and ensure you sleep under a mosquito net every night. If you get an insect bite, do not scratch it but attend to it with a first aid kit before going to a hospital or pharmacy.
Having private health insurance is paramount if you will be seeking medical care in Indonesia as an expat. Find out the quality and availability of medical care within your location and always take the necessary health precautions to avoid falling sick.
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Expat Health Insurance Partners
Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.