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Health Insurance for Expats in Malta

Submitted: November 2013

Health insurance is really something to consider if you think of going to Malta. It is advisable to assess your likely premiums and to review your insurance arrangements before moving to Malta.

Unless you work in Malta and pay national insurance contributions, you should have private health insurance. If you don’t, you will have to pay your medical bills on a pay-as-you-go basis.

You can choose to have ultra-high excesses to be insured against the most expensive misfortunes only. This can then take your monthly premiums below $100. Otherwise, expect private health insurance to cost you a few hundred dollars per month. This is definitely below what you would have to pay in the US, but you are unlikely to save much money if you are an EU expat.

Never disregard the cost of health insurance in your personal financial planning. Don’t forget that the effective cost of health insurance includes social insurance (or taxes) and private insurance.

Vulnerable expatriates

The biggest disadvantage for expats comes in when if they have pre-existing conditions, or when they are retired (typically aged above 65). In most cases, they would have to rely on the private health insurance system, which could take monthly healthcare costs well above the $1,000 mark.

This issue can be solved, wholly or partly, if a social insurance scheme back home covers you whilst you are in Malta. If you intend to move to Malta, check your entitlements in your home country before applying for private health insurance. It is better to avoid paying private insurance where you already pay social insurance.

Free public healthcare services and private health insurance

Malta’s healthcare system is based on the Beveridge model, whereby services are provided free of charge and entitlement is based on social citizenship only. In theory, you should get healthcare for free if you are an eligible person. In practice, Maltese residents have a lot of out-of-pocket expenditures, such as medicines, outpatient dentistry or healthcare in private establishments.

Private health insurance isn’t that common in Malta. Instead, the Maltese tend to pay out-of-pocket. Remember that Maltese citizens go private only because they want to. Nobody will force you to go to a private clinic if you need medical treatment.

Self-insurance, i.e. paying out-of-pocket, is something that you can consider if you think there are little risks to be insured against. Most Maltese know that they can anyway rely on high-quality public healthcare if something really bad happens.

Self-insurance is also a way to avoid effectively paying for insurer profit, insurance taxes and administrative costs.

International cover

You should check the geographical coverage of your existing insurance policy, if you have any. A Maltese health insurance policy is unlikely to work outside Malta unless you specifically applied for an international cover.

If you rely a foreign policy but you haven’t been sold it as an international insurance cover specifically designed for expats, your policy is unlikely to work in Malta either. In that case, you should let your insurer know that you are moving to Malta, and possibly switch to an international cover. Your insurer would charge you extra for this, but do bear in mind that the very fact of being insured in several countries carries an extra burden as well.

A good international cover would insure you against:

  • medical costs in Malta
  • medical costs in your home country (or another relevant foreign country), and
  • medical evacuation costs (without adequate insurance, these can cost thousands of euros).

 

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