I’ve mentioned healthcare in Malta a few times on the blog but thought it was time to sit and do a definitive guide to healthcare and how doctors and hospitals in Malta work, to help you make the most out of your experience and know what you expect.
Free Healthcare in Malta
Free GP Surgeries
If you pay tax in Malta, then you are entitled to free healthcare. There are a number of free doctor clinics across the island called ‘polyclinics’ and here you can find a list of all doctor clinics in Malta. A few things to know;
- You can’t make an appointment to see a GP.
- The clinics are usually absolutely rammed meaning doctors are rushed and stressed.
- In my opinion you wont get the best service here.
These clinics are generally utter chaos. I don’t think there is any decent patient filing system. Some people seem to go in with folders but I’ve never been given one and when I go the doctor doesn’t make any notes on me so each time you go the doctor has no idea about you or your history.
There is no proper ticket or queueing system. You simply walk into a crowded room and have to find out for yourself who was last in to make sure you go in after them. Chaos.
I believe there is one free hospital on the island, which is Mater Dei, although there are other specialist hospitals that you might be referred to, which are also free. For example Sir Paul Boffa Hospital in Floriana, which deals with skin complaints.
Mater Dei has an A&E department but like most, it’s busy and should only be used in case of an emergency. Do not over work these poor healthcare workers.
In my experience the hospital is big, clean and the staff are professional and friendly.
Private Healthcare in Malta
Now, private healthcare is just healthcare you pay for, and not necessarily part of some plan. If you can afford a healthcare plan, I’d 100% recommend it, but even those on a budget can take advantage of certain aspects.
If you don’t have any kind of private health insurance, you can still use private doctors at a very affordable rate. The doctors at private hospitals will be more expensive, as will specialists but most pharmacies on the island have a resident GP which you can pay to see.
- Pharmacy GP: €10 – €20 per appointment.
- Private hospital GP: €20 – €80 per appointment.
- Dermatologist: €30 – €70 per appointment.
Then, if any of them believe you need further treatment or checks, they will ask if you want to go private (either pay as you go, or on a plan) or whether you prefer to use the free government facilities. When it comes to seeing a GP for whatever reason I’d always recommend paying the €10 – €20 and visiting a pharmacy doctor. In general they are much less chaotic with queueing, the doctors are less stressed and rushed and you are already in the pharmacy if you need to buy any prescriptions. I personally like the resident GP at Melita Pharmacy in St Julians.
Private Healthcare Insurance
Private healthcare is, in my opinion, pretty affordable in Malta. I don’t know how it compares to the rest of the world, but my last plan (I had it through my work) was around €300 per year and that covered pretty much any medical procedure- doctors appointments, operation, treatments etc. Of course, nothing cosmetic, unless medically required, but it was very extensive. Depending on your age and situation the prices will vary but I’d recommend getting a quote from Atlas Healthcare if you’re interested.
There are a number of private hospitals across the island and you can either pay for your treatments, or use them if you have private health insurance. Paying to go private for a procedure (without insurance) will be expensive, so personally I use private hospitals only to see the specialist Dermatologist. If she referred me for any additional treatment (light therapy for example), I’d always go for the free government option, but as a skin specialist, she’s worth forking out the fee.
Private hospitals in Malta are impeccable. Years ago Joe had to have an emergency (not life threatening!) operation and as he had insurance at the time he went to St James in Sliema and the whole process was as smooth as an operation could be. He had his own private room, which I stayed in whilst he was in theatre and we both slept in afterwards, it even had it’s own bathroom. They brought us sandwiches when he was finished too and the place was spotless and everyone was helpful and friendly.
- Get private health insurance if you can afford it.
- But if not, if you need to see a GP, pay the small fee to see one at your local pharmacy.