Malaysia - Healthcare
One of the great attractions of Malaysia for those over 55 years of age is the country’s excellent medical services and facilities. Like Thailand, Malaysia is a destination for medical tourism. There are more than 70 flights a week from Medan in Indonesia to Penang alone, and much of this is driven by the Indonesian need for good medical services.
In Penang, Kendal and her family have no medical insurance. She explained: ‘We cancelled our health insurance. Most expats don’t worry about health insurance unless their company pays for it. ‘The medical care is very good. Most medical staff are internationally qualified. The dentists are excellent and cheap.
‘You can just walk into a GP, no appointment. For us, appointment plus antibiotics costs about A$25. At pharmacists here, you can get everything you need over the counter. ‘We have not heard of any medical horror stories here. There are apparently nine hospitals on the island. It is now the medical tourism hotspot. Cosmetic surgery is big.’
Kendal and the family are under 55 years of age and so that explains some of their reluctance to pay up for private health cover. But Ellen, in Kuala Lumpur, is 67 and she also said she doesn’t bother with medical insurance.
Ellen explained that people over 65 can’t get insurance cover in Malaysia (see Chapter 10 ‘Health Insurance’). But, according to Ellen, the standard of medical service is excellent and the costs are reasonable so ‘I am quite prepared to wear that’.
She pointed out that medical treatment may cost hundreds of thousands in Australia without health cover, but in Malaysia it would cost tens of thousands. ‘I take that into account. I know that I need to have enough money to cover high medical bills if I get really ill,’ she said.
However, this is the high-risk approach. What if you have an accident or a serious illness? One option is to go to Singapore, only about four hours drive from KL, or return to Australia—both of which will cost you plenty when you get there. Our advice is to always have private health cover if you can afford it, at least until you’re settled into your new country and know what medical services are available.