Malta is well known as one of the world's top healthcare destinations. Despite its small size, the archipelago has a lot to offer when it comes to high standards of care. There are both public and private healthcare sectors in Malta, and the islands have numerous facilities available. Healthcare services in Malta are well priced but in-hospital costs can add up.
Health insurance in Malta
Maltese citizens and expats with work permits have access to free healthcare in Malta. EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit. Employed expats pay social-service contributions and can therefore access services, but those who don't work in Malta will need to take out private insurance if they want coverage.
Luckily, there are many inexpensive medical insurance policies to choose from, so it's generally worthwhile to take out a policy. Since healthcare in Malta is so affordable, some expats take out basic hospital cover only and pay for day-to-day medical expenses, such as GP appointments and medicines, out of pocket.
Public healthcare in Malta
Public healthcare in Malta is provided at the level of public health centres (clinics) and hospitals. Since residents are assigned a clinic based on their place of residence, they generally have shorter waiting times and are a good option for less serious ailments.
Health centres provide specialised services such as immunisation, gynaecology, physiotherapy and psychiatry, in addition to general practitioners and nurses.
Private healthcare in Malta
Although the sector is small, private healthcare in Malta is accessible and holds high standards. Private hospitals offer the benefit of shorter waiting times and superior facilities, though naturally at a higher cost than public facilities. Private hospitals in Malta are, however, affordable when compared with other European countries and are especially popular with British patients who want to avoid NHS waiting lists.
Most foreign residents need private medical insurance which can either be taken out with a local insurance company or an international provider.
Pharmacies in Malta
Every village in the archipelago has at least one pharmacy, and many have more. Pharmacies in Malta dispense medication and provide the services of general practitioners, while some offer on-site specialists at certain times.
Most pharmacies are open from Monday to Friday from 8am or 9am to 6pm or 7pm, sometimes closing for a few hours around midday. On Saturdays, pharmacy hours are generally from 8am or 9am to 12pm. On Sundays and public holidays, pharmacies operate on a rotating schedule.
Emergency services in Malta
The emergency number in Malta is 112. Operators can speak both Maltese and English, and the line can be used to contact various emergency services.