Malaysia is currently a destination for medical tourism, and you can find a high standard of healthcare in its private sector. Government-sponsored healthcare is also deemed to be of a good quality there.As an expat, your options for accessing government-sponsored healthcare under national health insurance will be limited, since Malaysia does not run such a scheme for expats. However, if you would like to use the public sector, then you can pay for this out of pocket. You will find that costs are significantly less than in the US.
You may wish to take out private insurance during your stay in Malaysia, either as an alternative to using public healthcare or as a top up.
How does the Malaysian state health insurance system work?
The Malaysian government heavily subsidises healthcare, which is paid for out of taxation. It is not a universal system, however, and Malaysia does not have a national health insurance scheme as such. A national plan, 1Care for 1Malaysia, was proposed in 2009 relating to overhauling the system. It was based on the principle ‘use according to need; pay according to ability.’ However, implementation of this has so far been slow to non-existent.
In 2011, the Malaysian government introduced the Foreign Worker Hospitalisation and Surgical Insurance Scheme (FWHS or SKHPPA), a compulsory scheme run by the Ministry of Health & Immigration Department to protect overseas workers in case of illness or accident. If you are entitled to register with this scheme, you will have a choice of insurance providers, as a number of them are contracted to it.
How to register
As an expat, you will only be eligible for the Foreign Worker Hospitalisation and Surgical Insurance Scheme (FWHS). Malaysia currently does not have any reciprocal healthcare agreements with other nations. Your employer should register you with the FWHS, but check that this has been done.
Under the FWHS, you will be covered for a fixed amount of care in public sector hospitals. Treatment will be free at delivery, and your coverage will entitle you to a third class room, plus board for up to 30 days (15 days in an ICU), as well as some inpatient medical consultations and care. You will also be entitled to free at delivery treatment in public hospitals in the case of an emergency.
If you are a retired expat or an international student, you will need to take out private cover. You will also need to take out private cover for your dependants, as the FWHS will not cover them.
You will be allowed to access the public healthcare system if you pay, but note that you will be charged more than Malaysians are.
In order to find your local GP, check online, or ask local colleagues or friends. Medical practitioners are required to be registered with the Malaysian Medical Council, so if you check with them you will be able to see if your local practice is accredited. Once you have located a practice, you can visit them and sign up.
Private health insurance in Malaysia
Because of the restrictions on the public healthcare scheme, most expats take out private health insurance to cover them during their stay in the country. The country is a destination for medical tourism, and private healthcare is of a high standard, so you should have no difficulty in finding a clinic. You can also ask for a list of these from your international health insurance company or your local embassy. You may additionally like to ask friends or colleagues whether they can recommend any good private providers.
When registering with a private healthcare provider, check the terms and conditions. For example, make sure they accept your insurance, and have a look at what form of payment they prefer. Do not be shy of asking for references or proof of accreditation.