European citizens who are covered by a public sickness insurance scheme of one of the EEA States (or Switzerland) are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Medical tourists and visitors travelling to Malta with their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can receive healthcare treatment on a reciprocal basis - excluding of course any private treatment.
With the EHIC you are entitled to free or reduced-cost necessary treatment if you (or any of your dependants) are suddenly taken ill or have an accident during your visit to Malta - but only in the public hospitals and clinics (your EHIC will not be accepted in a private hospital). You will receive treatment on the same terms as Maltese residents, but services may differ from in your home country.
It is therefore wise to have full medical and travel insurance in case of further medical treatment or evacuation. Ideally the EHIC should be used in conjunction with travel medical insurance to cover any medical and health emergencies.
The EHIC is a good solution if you visit Malta for a holiday or if you are a becoming a resident of Malta the EHIC is a good back-up until you are registered with the Maltese Social Security, or until you have health insurance in place - but the EHIC is only for people from EEA countries.
For medical emergency care involving admission to public hospitals for services such as in-patient care, day care services, diagnostic services or out-patient visits, patients will not be charged if they have proof of EU nationality and a valid EHIC, but medication prescribed for follow-up care after hospital treatment (except medication for the first three days after discharge) or as part of day care or outpatient care should be paid for by the patient.
If you are visiting or staying in Malta for a short time from a non-EEA country, and are not covered by the national health services of your country then it is vital that you have comprehensive private travel insurance to cover yourself for any medical emergencies when in Malta.
If you have an existing medical insurance policy, contact the company prior to your trip to Malta to confirm whether the policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation, for example, some US medical insurance plans do not cover health costs incurred outside the US unless supplemental coverage is purchased, so make enquiries with your insurance company beforehand.
Health Insurance for Maltese Residents and expatriates
As well as being a top holiday destination, Malta also has an expatriate community. The island's warm, sunny climate and relaxed lifestyle is very conducive for health and wellbeing and many people are drawn to Malta to retire, semi-retire or spend a few months of the year. However, it is vital to know what healthcare provisions are available for residents, and when private medical insurance is needed.
The Ministry of Health is responsible for financing and providing publicly funded health care services. Maltese residents are entitled to public care services under the social security legislation and EU nationals living in Malta are eligible to receive free medical treatment from government-funded hospitals and clinics provided they have certification from the Entitlements Unit of the Ministry of Health.
If you are planning on living in or moving to Malta it is essential that you do some research beforehand about your healthcare entitlements. The Ministry advises foreign residents or long-term visitors to take out private medical insurance because although travel policies cover accidents or illnesses they don't cover longer term or routine medical problems.
Expatriate health insurance products are designed for foreigners living or working in a country outside of their normal home for at least six months of the year. Many international insurance companies advertise in expatriate magazines and there are plenty of resources on the internet. AXA PPP Healthcare offer international health insurance in Malta.
Establish your needs before buying a policy. A basic policy will usually cover in-patient and day-patient treatment, post hospital treatment, nursing at home, emergency dental and complications of pregnancy, but will not cover outpatient, routine maternity, dental costs, and some illnesses and treatments, such as cancer.
A more comprehensive policy will cover all the above and out-patient care and specialists, routine dental treatment, normal pregnancy and complementary care. Most international health insurance plans include the costs of land and air private ambulances, as well as the costs of repatriation/ evacuation.
The excess is the first part you pay of any claim and the higher the excess amount, the cheaper the premium. Many international healthcare plans will exclude treatment for chronic conditions like cancers, diabetes and eczema (health problems which persist and need ongoing healthcare, as opposed to acute conditions which can potentially be treated and cured). The cost of your insurance premium will be much lower if you have a healthcare plan without cover for chronic conditions, but each individual situation needs careful consideration.
Cover can be bought for individuals, employees or self-employed persons and although international covers offer the option to include partners and children, don't assume that they are automatically covered. Consider you needs, and read the small print carefully.
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