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Health insurance for Malaysia

Malaysia has a highly rated health care system, particularly in larger cities like Kuala Lumpur, with a WHO ranking of 49 for Overall Health System Performance.

Facilities in more rural areas may be below the standard of city hospitals.

Trying to establish itself as a medical tourism destination, the country offers high-quality health care for locals and expatriates alike. Many doctors, particularly in areas such as cardiology, ophthalmology, and gastroenterology — as well as plastic and general surgery — are leaders in their field. Pharmacies are widespread and can be found in most shopping centres and are well stocked — for some medications you will not even need a prescription. If you are travelling with prescription medication, bear in mind that Malaysian Customs allow you to carry only one-month’s worth of meds with you. Further information can be found on the Ministry of Health Malaysia website, or you can contact them at pharmacy1@moh.gov.my.

Malaysia does not have a national health insurance scheme, but in 2011 the government introduced the Foreign Worker Hospitalisation and Surgical Insurance Scheme, making it mandatory for foreign workers to have medical insurance. There is a mixture of government and private health care available, with standards high across both. Foreign employees are expected to cover the fees, and in return are granted a fixed amount of health care per year in government hospitals.

Government hospitals have reasonable fees, most doctors speak English, and specialists such as dentists are available for consultation and treatment. All hospitals will require a deposit before treatment can proceed; so comprehensive health insurance is essential. 24-hour accident and emergency departments are accessible in government hospitals, as well as some private ones. Ambulances can be reached on the Emergency numbers 999 or 112.

Whether you prefer access to private health care facilities or government health care facilities, make sure you acquire the appropriate health insurance and ensure your policy covers:

  • Air ambulance
  • Full medical cover
  • Repatriation

Risks to health

Respiratory problems can arise in Malaysia due to the high levels of air pollution caused by smoke haze, particularly from June-October. You can keep up-to-date with health warnings and advice issued by the Malaysian government.

Dengue fever outbreaks can occur in Malaysia, including in urban areas such as Kuala Lumpur. During the rainy season, and in daylight hours, the risk is increased. A viral infection with flu-like symptoms, Dengue is contracted through the bites of infected mosquitos. It can become fatal, so you should take precautions to avoid insect bites using appropriate nets and DEET-based repellent (reapplied at intervals), as well as wearing long-sleeved clothing (ideally treated with insecticide).

Malaria is a risk in the inland, forested areas of peninsular Malaysia. Use the precautions described above to avoid insect bites or consider anti-malarial medication. Read the ABCD guide to preventing malaria for more information.  

Zika Virus is transmitted by infected mosquitos. See the above Malaria advice for preventive measures, as there is no vaccination or medication available. Cases have been reported since 2009, and while there has been a recent reduction, as of September 2016, a new case of local transmission has been reported in Sabah.

Schistosomiasis is a parasitic infection which travellers can be exposed to during swimming, wading, or washing clothes. The World Health Organisation has suggested that the transmission of Schistosoma larvae may have been interrupted in recent years, meaning the risk to expatriates is relatively small.  

Typhoid has been reported in Malaysia, with 32 cases confirmed in Kuala Lumpur since August 2015. A bacterium transmitted through the handling of food by infected persons, or through sewage, both vaccinations and antibiotics are available.

Yellow Fever is not an infection risk in Malaysia, but if you are arriving from a country with a risk of Yellow fever transmission, you will be required to provide certification

Terrorism is a potential threat in parts of Malaysia, with some areas being high risk. The FCO recommend against travelling to all islands off the coast of eastern Sabah from Kudat to Tawau. Learn more here. 

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