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Healthcare

Healthcare in Malta has a long and rich history, in which the Knights of St John/The Knights Hospitaller played an integral part, constructing their famous hospital – the Sacra Infermia – in Valletta in 1575. From this history modern healthcare and medicine emerged, and its excellence and advancements persist in Malta today.

Malta has both private and public healthcare systems. Healthcare in Malta is of a very high standard and is ranked among the best in the world by the World Health Organization.

Public healthcare is funded through general taxation by the state. Employers and employees pay weekly National Insurance contributions, which fund social services such as healthcare. The unemployed, old age pensioners, and those on long-term sickness benefit or maternity leave do not have to pay healthcare contributions.

The state fund covers most medical services including specialist, hospitalization, pregnancy and childbirth, and rehabilitation services.

Private healthcare co-exists with the state system, acting as a supplement or alternative option for those seeking to avoid wait times or for those without access to state-funded healthcare. Most state employed physicians also work at private practices.

Emergency care is provided free of charge to everyone, including EU and non-EU nationals without state health insurance. However, once non-EU nationals without access to state health insurance become non-emergent, hospitals require proof of insurance status, as well as payment for non-emergent treatments.

General practitioners in Malta do not keep their patient’s health records or test results. The patient is responsible for storing and transporting this information to medical appointments and visits.

EU Nationals

Maltese and EU nationals may obtain healthcare, free of charge, at a government funded polyclinic/Health Center or hospital.

Temporary EU visitors to Malta have direct access to state funded health care upon presentation of an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) and identification document. EU citizens should obtain EHIC’s free of charge before they travel to Malta.

EU Nationals can also attend private clinics and pay out of pocket or through private insurance.

Be advised that in both public and private facilities, although numbered tickets are issued, queue jumping is not uncommon.

Maltese nationals must pay for prescriptions, with the exception of elderly and low-income Maltese nationals, and Maltese nationals suffering from particular chronic illnesses. EU and non-EU nationals must also pay for prescriptions.

Prescription and over-the-counter medications can be purchased at pharmacies for reasonable fees. For example, a round of standard antibiotics costs less than €10.

Non-EU Nationals

Non-EU nationals must have private health insurance to obtain a residence permit in Malta.

Non-EU nationals can benefit from free, state-funded healthcare once they receive the proper residency documentation and are paying National Insurance and taxes in Malta.

Non-EU nationals can also receive treatment at private clinics, which are quite inexpensive compared to North America, including specialist appointments and procedures. For example, it costs approximately €50 to see a gynecologist or dermatologist at a private clinic in Malta.

The main difference between public and private clinics is wait times, and increased quality of service and amenities. However, that is not to say that public clinics are deficient in these areas.

Be advised that in both public and private facilities, although numbered tickets are issued, queue jumping is not uncommon.

By Jess Gerrow, who traded city life in Canada for island life in the Mediterranean two years ago. She is a postgraduate marketing student, blogger, and freelance writer.