An expat guide to healthcare and health insurance in Malta
Are you researching an expat health insurance for Malta? It is important to find out about the local healthcare system first.
Whether you are moving to Malta or you are already living there as an expat, read our guide on the Maltese healthcare system and your different options of medical insurance in Malta.
- Total population (2016) : 429,000
- Gross national income per capita (PPP international $, 2013): 28,030
- Life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2016): 80/83
- Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population, 2016): 71/38
- Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2014): 3,072
- Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2014): 9.8
Healthcare in Malta for expats
The quality of healthcare offered in Malta is highly regarded. Services are divided into private and state sectors, with the Ministry of Health, Elderly and Community Care governing.
There is no specific state healthcare system in Malta, and depending on your reason for staying, expats must be insured either through the basic public insurance system, privately, or a combination of the two. Holders of private insurance may opt for it as a ‘top-up’ policy.
Employees and the self-employed pay national insurance and social security contributions which fund a basic healthcare insurance, but if you do not work and pay into this fund, it is advised to take out private health insurance. There is also the option to pay medical bills on a pay-as-you-go basis. This form of self-insurance, or paying out-of-pocket, is fairly common amongst Maltese residents.
Malta’s main state hospitals are in the towns of Msida (Mater Dei hospital) near the capital city of Valletta, and Gozo General Hospital on the island of Gozo, just north of Malta. You will need to attend one of eight state health centres (clinics) for a referral to a hospital or specialist service. Click here to find information on Malta’s health centres and the areas they serve. The health centres offer general practitioner and nursing services as well as others such as gynaecology and psychiatry. Malta’s pharmacies also offer primary healthcare services at certain times of the week.
Who can benefit from it?
According to the Healthcare Fees Regulation, the following expats have free access to Malta’s state healthcare:
- Employees or the self-employed who pay social security contributions
- A citizen of a country which has a reciprocal health care agreement with Malta (for example the UK or Australia)
- Students at certain universities and schools in Malta
- A person who is in Malta in an advisory or consultative capacity to the government
- People in receipt of a government pension
- Financial dependents (such as a spouse or dependent children)
For people on a low-income and those suffering with a chronic illness, there are social assistance programmes available.
Emergency care is provided free of cost at hospitals in Malta to anyone needing urgent care, even to visitors and people residing in the country who do not have health insurance.
If you are retired, it could be best to take out private health insurance rather than paying as-you-go. Before you go to Malta, check whether you are entitled to coverage via your home country.
If you are working on a secondment in Malta, you may be entitled to health cover funded by your home country during your time in Malta. Contact your home country’s healthcare department or provider to find out more information.
How do I sign up as an expat?
Expats moving to Malta must register with the Malta Health Department Entitlement Unit as soon as possible, unless you are planning on staying less than three months or you are covered by an international private health insurance.
For EU nationals, to gain a certificate of entitlement you will need to obtain a S1 form from your home country as your key to accessing healthcare in Malta. Click here for more information on the S1 form. If you are a non-EU national, it is advised that you take out a travel insurance that covers medical costs in Malta, including medical evacuation in an emergency.
If you are a citizen of a European Union country, ensure you have registered for an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to provide coverage for emergency and necessary treatment for up to the first 90 days after you move to Malta.
You do not need to register with a specific doctor in Malta.
Limitations of public healthcare in Malta
Unlike an international private health insurance, cover through Maltese state healthcare is unlikely to be valid outside of Malta, unless you specifically sought out a private international cover. Waiting times in the public sector to get an appointment with a specialist or for a minor operation can be discouraging. You may want to consider taking out a policy that covers medical costs overseas, including medical evacuation to your home country. International private health insurance coverage is often a better option for the expat lifestyle.
Regarding dental care, only certain acute emergency treatments are offered free of charge in hospitals or health centres. Any other dental care must be paid for by patients in private clinics.
Local private health insurance in Malta
Malta’s private sector is good value for money compared to those of many other European countries. Taking out private health insurance is not mandatory, but has advantages compared to the state health system. To avoid waiting lists and to access better-equipped facilities, an increasing amount of the population opt for a private health insurance in Malta.
When it comes to choosing a private health insurance in Malta, you can also consider an international health insurance, which is often more suited to the expat lifestyle than a local health insurance.
International health insurance for expats in Malta
An international health insurance for Malta is often a better option for expats than a local health plan. It allows you to be treated in the hospital and with the doctor of your choice, not only in Malta but also abroad (within the zone of cover of your insurance policy).
If you would like wider financial protection in the event of stopping work due to an accident or disabling illness, Expat Assure can also advise you on expat life insurance for Malta and income protection. To find out more, please, read our pages on expat life insurance and expat income protection.
What is the best health insurance for expats in Malta?
The best health insurance in Malta for one expat might not be the best for you as everyone has different requirements and expectations.
In order to find which is the best health insurance in Malta for you, it is important to consider several aspects such as your medical history, your age, your specific needs in terms of medical cover, your situation in Malta, alongside other parameters.
Emergency numbers 112 for ambulance, police or fire brigade emergencies. Calls are answered in Maltese or English.
Useful links Malta’s government health website
Information about Malta’s health centres and the areas that they serve
Mater Dei Hospital website
Gozo general hospital website
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