With immediate effect, expats and other foreigners residing in Malaysia will be required to pay significantly higher deposits for medical treatment at government hospitals.
According to Ministry of Health Deputy Secretary General Datuk Mohd Shafiq Abdullah, the new rates apply to ward and surgery categories (as well as OB/GYN), and represent an increase of up to 233%. These new rates apply to both adults and children, but exemptions are made for foreigners holding Permanent Resident (PR) status, as well as for foreigners who are legally married to Malaysians. Children under 12 with one Malaysian parent (or parent holding PR status) are also exempt from these rates.
Prior to January 2015, foreign residents paid the same deposits as Malaysians. However, following a study that suggested these foreigners used some 30 to 40% of the medical treatment subsidies provided by the Malaysian government, a separate schedule of rates was introduced. Now, those figures are being sharply raised.
To see the dramatic increase in the deposits required, look at the table below:
While it seems a reasonable policy to charge foreign residents more, perhaps an exemption should also be considered for expats who are working in Malaysia. After all, these expats are paying Malaysian taxes – oftentimes significantly so – and logically should be afforded the same treatment rates and options under the country’s universal healthcare systems as Malaysians. However, it’s worth noting that most working expats have their own health insurance, either self-paid or provided by their company, which precludes the need for cash payments or deposits.
Based on the directive, this appears to only affect the deposit required, not necessarily the actual cost of the medical treatment. Note, too, that this seems to apply only to government hospitals at which foreign residents are seeking treatment and for which they are paying cash. (That’s not to say private hospitals won’t charge cash-paying patients a deposit; they surely would. However, these hospitals set their own rates and do not have them prescribed by the government.) If you are a foreign resident holding local/international medical insurance, these new deposit rates should not affect you.
To see a schedule of rates foreigners pay for actual services (distinct from the deposits outlined here), visit http://www.moh.gov.my/english.php/pages/view/153. Take note, however, that this Ministry of Health page shows a ‘last update’ in late 2013, with the page’s footer showing a much more recent update (April 2017). It’s unclear as to which is correct.