The standard of public healthcare in Indonesia varies, and 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. Comprehensive medical insurance is essential for expats moving to Indonesia, and it's a legal requirement for those living there on a retirement visa.
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 can 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 travel to neighbouring countries with better medical facilities, such as Singapore or Thailand, for serious routine or planned procedures.
Health insurance in Indonesia
Most companies will provide comprehensive medical insurance for their expat staff. Before setting off for Indonesia, expats should check their contracts to see whether the health insurance policy is adequate for their needs and those of family members.
As most expats and wealthy Indonesians often go to Singapore to access better medical care for more serious conditions, expats should ensure the company’s health insurance policy covers international medical evacuation as well as treatment in Singapore.
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 don't tend to fill prescriptions from elsewhere.
Pharmacies in Indonesia sell a wide range of prescription and over-the-counter medications and usually have an on-site pharmacist 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 not typically a problem in the country's major urban hubs like Jakarta and Bali. If based in rural areas such as Sumatra, Sulawesi and Kalimantan, expats should be on a course of anti-malarial medication.
The air quality in Indonesia’s main cities, especially Jakarta, is poor. This can be a particular issue for those who have asthma, so it is advised that expats have the necessary medication and their inhalers on hand.
Vaccinations for Indonesia
With its tropical climate and diverse environments, Indonesia can expose expatriates and travellers to various infectious diseases. Obtaining the right vaccinations before travelling is crucial to ensure one's health and safety.
Common vaccinations recommended include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, and routine immunisations such as measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), and diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTAP). It's advisable for expats to consult with a healthcare provider to tailor the vaccinations based on individual health conditions, the duration of stay and the specific areas within Indonesia they plan to visit.
It’s also prudent to have these vaccinations well before travelling, as some vaccinations require a series of doses spread over time to be effective. Prospective travellers should also be informed of the health risks in the areas they plan to visit and take necessary precautions. For instance, although malaria is not prevalent in major cities like Jakarta and Bali, it is present in rural areas.
Emergency services in Indonesia
Indonesia does not have a national emergency medical service. Public hospitals have ambulances, but staffing and equipment are not of a high standard. Expats should identify private ambulance services available in their area. The general emergency number is 112.
What do expats say about Indonesian healthcare?
"Let’s just say I am not very pleased with Indonesian hospitals. However, when it comes to tropical diseases, such as dengue fever (yes I had it, mosquitoes really love me here), they are experts in diagnosing and treating them." Read more about Spanish-Swiss expat Lidia's experiences 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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