Learn About the Healthcare System & Insurance Options for Expats in Malta
Malta is a Southern European island country located between Sicily and the North African coast. If you are an expat or resident of Malta before the end of 2020, you are in for good news. As long as you’re a legal resident, you have access to lifelong healthcare services in Malta.
Public funds fuel the healthcare system in Malta with cost-free delivery. The funding comes from its massive workforce that contributes to the national insurance system. It does not matter which country these workers are from originally. You can also ensure access to top-notch healthcare throughout your stay here by purchasing international health insurance from a leading insurance company. Additionally, the CDC suggests visiting your doctor one month prior to departure to get the vaccinations you need.
Overview of Healthcare System
Malta has a highly unique healthcare system backed by an excellent track record of providing public-financed care since 1372. That is when Malta’s first hospital became operational. When the Knights of St. John came to the country in the early 16th century, they started building hospitals as one of their fundamental objectives.
Present-day Malta has a public-financed healthcare system where you do not have to pay for medical services at the point of delivery. The country has a time-honored history of GP-run primary healthcare. Public hospitals also provide secondary and tertiary care whenever needed.
Low-income groups and patients of chronic diseases can access social assistance programs. In case of emergencies, hospitals in Malta provide free care. This facility is for everyone physically present in the country (visitors as well as residents) without health insurance. For the retired, a wise move would be to get a private health insurance cover instead of paying on-the-move.
How the Healthcare Works for Expats in Malta?
The quality of healthcare available in Malta is widely appreciated. Services can be categorized as private and public, regulated by the Ministry of Health and Elderly and Community Care, respectively.
Malta does not have a particular type of healthcare system. It all depends on the purpose of your stay in the country. Expats must have an insurance cover sourced from a basic public insurance system, or a basic private insurance system, or a mix of both. Those who are privately insured can choose to go for a ‘top-up’ policy.
The workforce and the self-employed pay for social insurance and social security, and this amount contributes to primary healthcare insurance. However, in case you do not contribute to these schemes, you should get private health insurance. You can also opt for paying medical bills using a pay-as-you-go system. This mode of personal insurance, or cash-based payment, is quite standard with the inhabitants of Malta.
Public Healthcare in Malta
The Mater Dei Hospital (MDH), more famous as Mater Dei, is the main hospital of Malta, located in Msida. It functions as a specialty facility as well as a training institute. In terms of infrastructure, it has one of the most significant facilities in Europe. Patients are admitted via referrals by a doctor or the emergency department.
Malta’s public healthcare system is funded via taxes and caters to all types of therapies such as hospitalization, surgeries, pregnancy, labor, and recuperation. The Maltese islands have eight health centers that deliver government-sponsored primary healthcare. Malta has seven public medical centers while Gozo has one.
Besides general physician and nursing services, these centers also offer various preventive, curative, and rehabilitative services. One can access these services in clinics, which include postnatal, gynecology, ophthalmology, endocrinology, etc. Several other hospitals provide secondary and tertiary care throughout the nation.
Private Healthcare in Malta
As more and more residents in Malta go for private healthcare insurance, the number of private healthcare clinics and hospitals in Malta is also on the rise. However, most of the doctors employed in the private medical care system also function as general practitioners in government hospitals and clinics.
A large number of locals opt for private healthcare insurance, whereas a few go for general practitioners and consultants’ services on a pay-as-you-go basis. A majority of the employers in the country usually hire private doctors on contract for their employees.
Most of the GPs employed with the public healthcare system are also into private practice, which is highly reputed and better paying. Almost all pharmacies in the islands of Malta and Gozo offer GP services at specific hours. A few pharmacies have specialized doctors, but for a price. It is best to schedule an appointment before visiting a pharmacy.
Emergency Medical Services Available
In case of any untoward incident or an emergency that requires immediate medical attention, you can call an ambulance as soon as possible. Just like the other 28 EU member nations, people across Malta can also dial the toll-free number 112 for 24/7 emergency services.
Best Private International Medical Insurance for Expats Living in Malta
For expats, it is best to go for international health insurance rather than a local health plan. It helps you get access to hospitals and doctors of your preference. It applies to not just in Malta but in other countries where your policy is covered.
Which is the best health insurance in Malta is always subjective. It will be different for different expats, based on its coverage of the expats’ essential needs and the expectations they have. Various aspects, like pre-existing medical conditions, age, specific requirements of medical insurance, and the situation in Malta, among other criteria, need to be considered. Yet, you can find insurance plans offered by internationally-known names like Cigna, Allianz, and others. It is best to research and compare the policies these companies provide to expats in Malta before choosing the best one for you