Healthcare in Indonesia
The quality of public healthcare in Indonesia is not up to the standard that many Western expats may be used to. Although private medical care in Indonesia is expensive, it is the option best suited to the needs of expats and where they can expect better facilities and medical staff that speak English. Many expats choose to travel to neighbouring countries that have better medical facilities, such as Singapore or Thailand, for routine or planned procedures.
Healthcare facilities in Indonesia
Healthcare facilities in Indonesia are limited, with the best facilities found in Jakarta. The standard of local medical care can be poor and public hospitals, especially those found in the capital, tend to be overcrowded and waiting times will be long. Expats therefore tend to go private, which is relatively expensive, but offers much better facilities and coverage.
While expats are able to be treated in local public hospitals, doctors and staff will most likely be Indonesian and there can be no guarantee that they can speak English, so communication may be an issue.
Foreigners are not included in the national health insurance scheme, so doctors and public hospitals will likely expect payment in cash upfront.
Medicines and pharmacies in Indonesia
Pharmacies in Indonesia are known as ‘apotik’ and can easily be found in the large shopping malls scattered throughout all major cities. The main pharmacy chains include Century Healthcare, Guardian and Apotik Melawai. Pharmacies can also be found in all hospitals and medical clinics, although expats will need a prescription from a doctor at that particular practice as they won’t fill prescriptions from elsewhere.
Pharmacies in Indonesia sell a wide range of prescription and over-the-counter medications and usually have a pharmacist on site to assist customers with any drug-related questions. Again, be aware that, generally, Indonesian pharmacists know little English so expats may have trouble communicating with them.
Health insurance in Indonesia
Indonesia began rolling out a national health insurance scheme in 2014 as part of its plan for universal healthcare coverage for all Indonesian citizens. This is set to become the world's largest health insurance scheme by 2019, but doubts remain over the viability of the scheme and its implementation, with the scheme shrouded in controversy over its seemingly unachievable ambitions.
Expats are not covered under the universal scheme. Having comprehensive medical insurance is therefore essential for expats moving to Indonesia and those living there on a KITAS or retirement visa are required by law to have medical insurance. Most companies will provide this for their expat staff. Before setting off for Indonesia expats should check their contract to see whether the health insurance policy is adequate for their needs and those of any family members. As most expats and wealthy Indonesians often go to Singapore to access better medical care for the most serious conditions, expats should ensure the company’s health insurance policy covers international medical evacuation as well as treatment in Singapore.
Health hazards in Indonesia
Due to Indonesia’s tropical climate, malaria can be an issue; however, it is generally not a problem in the country's major urban hubs like Jakarta and on Bali. If based in rural areas such as Sumatra, Sulawasi and Kalimantan, it is advisable that expats are on a course of anti-malarial medication.
The air quality in Indonesia’s main cities, especially Jakarta, is poor and the seasonal haze from forest fires on Borneo and Sumatra are known to cause respiratory problems. This can be a particular issue for those suffering from asthma, so it is advised that expats have the necessary medication and their inhaler on hand.
Pre-travel restrictions and vaccinations in Indonesia
No specific vaccinations are required but it is recommended that expats moving to Indonesia have their typhoid, polio, hepatitis A and B vaccinations updated. If arriving from yellow fever infected countries in Africa or South America expats will be required to show their yellow fever certificate at immigration.
If needing to bring a specific medication into Indonesia, it's best to have it in its original container and, if possible, retain a doctor’s prescription to avoid any trouble from Indonesian customs inspectors.
Emergency services in Indonesia
Indonesia does not have a nationwide emergency medical service. Public hospitals do have ambulances but staffing and equipment are not of a particularly high standard. Expats should identify private ambulance services available in their area.