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The standard of public healthcare in Indonesia is variable at best. As such, most expats in the country choose to make use of private healthcare throughout their stay in the country.
Expats are not covered under the Indonesian universal healthcare scheme. Having comprehensive medical insurance is therefore essential for expats moving to Indonesia, and those living in the country on a retirement visa are required by law to have medical insurance.
Most companies will provide comprehensive medical insurance 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.
Public healthcare in Indonesia
Healthcare facilities in Indonesia are limited, with the best facilities found in and around 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.
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 will 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.
For these reasons, expats in Indonesia tend to opt for private healthcare, which is relatively expensive but offers far better facilities and coverage.
Private 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 most expats.
Private healthcare facilities usually boast superior amenities and expats making use of these are far likelier to encounter English-speaking staff. Many expats choose to travel to neighbouring countries which have better medical facilities, such as Singapore or Thailand, for serious routine or planned procedures.
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 most hospitals and medical clinics, although expats will need a prescription from a doctor at that particular practice as they will not generally 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, expats should be aware that, generally, Indonesian pharmacists know little English so foreigners may have trouble communicating with them.
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, Sulawesi 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 is 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 national 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.
►For information on managing finances, see Cost of Living in Indonesia
Are you an expat living in Indonesia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Indonesia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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