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Health Insurance in Malaysia for Foreigners: A Guide

Foreigners in Malaysia can either sign up for the Foreign Worker Hospitalization and Surgical Scheme or purchase a private health insurance plan. Expats who do not utilize one of these resources will have to pay for all medical expenses at the full cost out of pocket.

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Are you an expatriate heading to Malaysia and don’t know your health insurance options? In this blog post, we will be discussing the options for international health insurance available in Malaysia along with pros and cons of each option and the price of private insurance in the country.

International Health Insurance for Malaysian Expats

Kampung Baru View In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Foreigners in Malaysia most likely will need to purchase international health insurance, designed for international travel and living. Often these plans can cover you across country borders in any country of the world, and they include inpatient and outpatient care.

International health insurance plans partner with local medical providers in Malaysia and countries across the world, so you can find a plan that meets your needs and situation.

International health insurance for foreigners is different from what Malaysian citizens use, as we will discuss below.

Malaysia’s Health Insurance System

Malaysia’s health insurance system consists of subsidized healthcare funded by income taxes. These subsidized services are available to natives, but not to expatriates. Foreigners and expats may qualify for the Foreign Worker Hospitalisation and Surgical Scheme or purchase a private insurance plan.

Subsidized Healthcare in Malaysia for Citizens

Malaysian citizens have access to low-priced, highly subsidized healthcare services in Malaysia. This is not a public health insurance scheme. The income tax of the country makes it possible to keep healthcare costs incredibly low.

So when a Malaysian citizen gets treatment, all they have to do is pay a very low fee for the care they receive. This is how it works for citizens who seek treatment in a public healthcare facility.

Can Expats Qualify for Subsidized Healthcare?

Expats will not be charged at the highly subsidized rate. Instead, expats must pay for their medical care in full, purchase a private health insurance plan, or apply for the Foreign Worker Hospitalization and Surgical Scheme.

Foreign Worker Hospitalization and Surgical Scheme

Batu Caves, Gombak, Iconic Malaysian Landmark

Malaysian expats may qualify for the Foreign Worker Hospitalization and Surgical Scheme if they meet the criteria. The employer of foreign workers must enroll you to join the scheme. This plan has an annual limit of up to RM 20,000, it covers room and board up to RM 160, and ICU fees up to 15 days.

Criteria for Malaysia’s Worker Scheme:

  • Your coverage period must be 1 year
  • The foreign worker must be between the ages of 18 – 60
  • The foreign worker must be a present and future full-time employee of the owner of the certificate

Private Expat Health Insurance in Malaysia

Anyone in Malaysia can choose to purchase a private health insurance plan. Expats who do this can seek medical treatment in a private facility where higher quality equipment and more English-speaking professionals are located. You can use an insurance broker to find the right plan for your needs.

Here is how international health insurance works for expats in Malaysia:

  1. Compare Plans and Providers: Before you can pick a plan, you’ll want to compare health insurance plans, quotes, and providers. Using our quote generator tool makes that fast and simple without any pressure to commit.
  2. Discuss Your Options With an Expert: It is crucial to get an expert’s advice since they know the Malaysian healthcare system and insurance market, and they can guide you toward the plan that you need. Talk to our experts today!
  3. Sign a Contract: You can purchase your chosen plan through a broker like Pacific Prime. This will not cost you any extra money. Brokers receive a commission from providers, so instead, you gain a partner at no extra charge who can assist you with finding a plan, filing claims, renewing, and more.
  4. Seek Care: After you’ve been insured, you can seek medical care in Malaysia in the private clinics and hospitals of your choice, from the provider of your choosing. Private facilities will cut down your wait time and increase your chances of being treated in your native language.
  5. Submit Claims: Some insurance providers may require you to submit a claim after you’ve been treated and covered the bills yourself. Others have a direct billing option which means they’ll pay the bills for you directly and only contact you if you owe a portion left over.
  6. Carry Proof of Insurance: Be sure to carry proof of health insurance with you wherever you go in Malaysia.

Pros and Cons of Subsidized Health Insurance in Malaysia

Sunny Putrajaya Cityscape, Malaysia

A benefit of subsidized healthcare in Malaysia is it’s easily accessible, and a disadvantage is its long wait times. We’ll compare the pros and cons of subsidized healthcare in Malaysia in further detail below.

Pros

  • Malaysians have access to free or low-cost healthcare in public facilities.
  • Available in both urban and rural areas.
  • There are multiple projects underway to build more hospitals, renovate old ones, provide training, and increase health information.

Cons

  • Many public hospitals are seriously understaffed, both urban and rural.
  • Because there is a high demand for care with few employees, there are long wait times.
  • Many physicians are leaving the public sector because of the high stress and there is better income in the private sector.
  • There’s a special fee for individuals without a Malaysia identity card or who are foreign workers.
  • You have to pay steep income taxes.
  • Only citizens qualify for subsidized costs.
  • Public facilities may have less equipment, space, and outdated supplies.
  • There are fewer bilingual workers.

Pros and Cons of Private Health Insurance in Malaysia

An advantage of private health insurance is quick appointment times, while a disadvantage is higher costs. Below, let’s compare the pros and cons of private health insurance in Malaysia for expats.

Pros

  • Common and increasing in urban areas, which is often where the expats with private insurance live
  • Has great investments due to high medical tourism coming to private hospitals
  • Malaysia’s government is actively promoting Malaysia’s emerging role as a medical tourist destination
  • Quick appointment times
  • A wide variety of medical services and specialties are available
  • If you need a lot of treatments or care, coverage can save you a lot of money
  • You get access to higher-quality private facilities with up-to-date equipment
  • There are more bilingual workers

Cons

  • Less private hospitals in rural areas
  • It is more expensive
  • You’ll have to pay premium costs

How Much Medical Insurance Costs in Malaysia

Federal Mosque, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The cheapest international medical insurance plan in Malaysia for expats costs a $40 monthly premium from AXA. Other plans under $50 are from NOW Health International, A+ International, LUMA, and Tokio Marine. Plans with comprehensive coverage and deductibles under $3,500 are by Cigna and Bupa.

The following table shows medical insurance quotes for a 30-year-old female living in Malaysia for over a year. All plans include coverage for inpatient care, emergency evacuation, and emergency repatriation. All values are in USD.

Health Insurance Quotes for Expats in Malaysia

Provider Plan Name Monthly Premium Deductible Annual Plan Limit
Lowest Premiums
AXA Standard $40 $16,000 $1,600,000
NOW Health International SimpleCare Core $43 $15,000 $1,000,000
A+ International Plan 1 $45 $5,000 $200,000
LUMA Plan 1 $46 $10,000 $1,000,000
Tokio Marine Primary $47 $10,108 $4,332,000
Deductibles Under $3,500
A+ International Plan 1 $51 $1,000 $500,000 (30% copay)
AXA Foundation $51 $3,200 $160,000
AXA Standard $64 $3,200 $1,600,000
A+ International Plan 2 $69 $1,000 $400,000
LUMA Plan 1 $74 $1,000 $1,000,000
Bupa Essential $196 $3,200 $3,200,000
Cigna Silver $205 $3,000 $1,000,000

Individual plans will differ in their specific coverage benefits, and some will be more comprehensive than others.

To learn exactly what each plan covers and what your personal quote would be, speak to a Pacific Prime representative or use our quote generator on your own.

Things to Know Before Getting Malaysia Health Insurance

Modern Mosque In Melaka, Malaysia

Before expats get their Malaysian health insurance, they should know how they apply, how they pick a doctor, and what doctor routines are like. Knowing this information can help you determine if you’d prefer to use the foreign worker insurance scheme or private insurance.

Need to Know About Applying for Coverage

Expats who are applying for the Foreign Worker Hospitalization and Surgical Scheme do not need to apply themselves. Rather, their employer will register for them and fill out the required paperwork. If you’re choosing to get a private health insurance plan, you can set that up all on your own.

If you want assistance with getting private coverage, a broker can benefit you in many ways!

How to Find a Family Physician

Malaysian expats can pick the physician they want by visiting their hospital of choice and registering with the doctor’s clinic in person. This will then give you access to their schedule and working hours, and you can return to their facility anytime you need care. Appointments are rarely made.

How Routine Doctor Visits Work

Routine doctor visits in Malaysia typically do not require an appointment, and specialists do not need referrals from a general practitioner. If you need care, you can check in at the hospital of your choice and wait in line until you can be seen.

This is nice in some respects since you won’t need to wait weeks for a specialist opening, but it does mean that you may wait for hours in a hospital waiting room until it is your turn to be seen.

This might not seem like a lot to do at once, but imagine spending all day in the hospital for every doctor visit that you and your family need all year long. This is one reason why many expats prefer private hospitals that treat fewer patients and have shorter wait times.

Teleconsultations are becoming more popular in Malaysia for this very reason as well, so you can seek care without waiting in the hospital for a very long time. This highly benefits patients in rural areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Aerial View Of Mabul Island Resort, Sabah

Do expats need health insurance in Malaysia?

Expats need health insurance in Malaysia because they will not qualify for the highly subsidized health care rates. Those benefits are reserved for Malaysian citizens. Expats will have to pay for all healthcare expenses at the full price out of pocket if they don’t have insurance.

Can foreigners buy medical coverage in Malaysia?

Foreigners can buy medical insurance coverage in Malaysia through private health insurance providers. Some of the top providers include Cigna, Bupa, AXA, A+ International, NOW Health International, Tokio Marine, and LUMA.

Does Malaysia have free healthcare?

Malaysia does not have free healthcare. Malaysian citizens have access to very low-cost healthcare rates, but their income taxes make up the difference. Non-citizens do not have access to the subsidized care fees.

Does Malaysia have a universal healthcare system?

Malaysia does not have a universal healthcare system. Instead, they have highly subsidized healthcare fees. Malaysian citizens often don’t need an insurance plan because the medical expenses are low enough they cover them out of pocket. Expats, however, don’t qualify for these subsidized rates.

Is the quality of healthcare in Malaysia good?

The high quality and well-trained specialists in Malaysia attract medical tourists seeking healthcare services. The best-supplied hospitals are in major cities. Rural hospitals may lack medical resources and adequate staff, so you should seek treatment in highly-populated regions of the country.

Conclusion

In conclusion, you have both private and subsidized options to choose from when it comes to health insurance in Malaysia, each with its fair share of benefits and drawbacks.

For example, private health insurance offers short waiting times but is more expensive while subsidized health insurance is available both in rural and urban areas but only citizens qualify for it and there is fewer bilingual staff.

As the third largest international health insurance broker in the APAC region, Pacific Prime has over two decades of helping match both expats and local citizens to a health insurance plan that matches both their budget range and unique healthcare needs.

Whether you’re an expat living in Malaysia or a local citizen yourself, our team of specialists will be more than happy to help you out. And if you have any further questions, please get in touch with us or get a free quote here.

Content Writer at Pacific Prime
Wish Sutthatothon (Nickname: Guy) is currently a content writer at Pacific Prime Thailand, an insurance broker that connects individuals and businesses with insurance providers worldwide. He creates and edits blog articles, guides, reports, webpages, and other types of digital content.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts, Media & Communication major (concentration: Creative Content) from Mahidol University International College (MUIC). During the compulsory major elective period in the summer of 2021 and voluntarily during the summer of 2022, he also interned as a video and photo editor at Mbrella Films.

He has experience working as an English Content Writer at a real estate buying/renting/selling platform in Thonglor. There, he crafted company blog posts on a multitude of topics. Topics include market trends, legal issues and disputes in property businesses, financial guides, expat guides, home insurance, home decoration and maintenance, and weekly real estate news quick-recaps. Occasionally, as part of the blog-writing process, he would also translate existing Thai blogs to English.

In his free time, Guy enjoys doing scriptwriting and storytelling for comic strips, watching movies, and listening to music (particularly film scores).