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Health insurance in Malta: free and paid treatment for residents and visitors

Malta has an excellent healthcare system, with treatment that can be accessed via public and private facilities. The country has the lowest percentage of unmet medical examination needs in the EU according to the Health at a Glance 2022 report.

Medical insurance in Malta: free and paid services

But is Malta’s public healthcare available to tourists and non-residents? Let’s look at how health insurance works in the country.

In the 14th century, Malta already had its first public-funded healthcare facility. 

The modern healthcare system in Malta is divided into public and private. Both are of good quality, and doctors can practise in public and private institutions. The country has clinics and medical centres that offer both free and paid services. 

Public medical services are available for visitors and nationals, including those who obtained Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment

Public healthcare insurance in Malta 

The country has robust public healthcare, Malta’s National Health Service. It is financed through taxation and national insurance contributions from employers, employees, and the self-employed.  

Free medical services are readily available in primary and ambulatory care, including in-patient and out-patient treatment, prenatal and postnatal care, daycare, diagnostics, and emergency dental work. When a patient is discharged from a hospital in Malta or Gozo, they are supplied with three days’ worth of free medicine. After that, they can continue treatment in a government medical facility, or switch to a paid-for alternative.

Not just citizens and working expats, but also EU, UK, and Australian travellers to Malta are entitled to public healthcare.

Who can receive free healthcare treatment in Malta 

Citizens, residents, and expats who work legally in the country. They pay taxes and contributions to the Department of Social Security, which is how the public healthcare system in Malta is funded.

The main contributors to the Social Security fund are employers, employees, self-employed persons, and self-occupied persons.  

Self-employed persons in Malta are those who earn passive income, such as from investments, rents, or interests. Their income must not come from occupation or trade. 

Self-occupied persons in Malta are those who are not employed and earn money from trade or skill. Their annual income must exceed €910. Employed workers who earn more than €910 a year, yet work less than 8 hours a week, are considered self-occupied as well.  

Average social security contribution rates in Malta

  1. Employee and the employer — 10% of the basic weekly wage.
  2. Self-employed person earning between €1,005 and €9,296 — 15% of the weekly earnings.
  3. Self-occupied person earning between €10,848 and €25⇧,986 — 15% of the weekly earnings. 

The full list of rates and requirements is laid down in the Maltese Social Security Act (Cap. 318).

EU travellers. Nationals of another EU/Schengen Area state can get healthcare in Malta for free. They need to provide their  European Health Insurance Card if their visit is temporary — meaning, it will last no longer than 90 days.

If EU citizens plan to stay in Malta for longer, they need to get an S1 form in their country and register it with the Maltese Entitlement Unit. 

UK travellers. Since the UK has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Malta, its nationals have several ways to get free essential care in the country: 

  1. Present their UK passport if they are staying for up to one month.
  2. Obtain a Reciprocal Health Care Certificate if they are staying longer than one month.
  3. Present a UK-issued European Health Insurance Card or Global Health Insurance Card if they are a student or a posted worker.

If a UK resident stays in Malta for more than three months, they must register as a resident, and also register their UK-issued S1 with the Maltese Entitlement Unit. Then they will be eligible for the entire spectrum of Malta’s National Health Service treatments — not just the essential care.

Australian travellers. Australia also has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Malta. This means that Australian nationals can get free essential healthcare in Malta within six months. They need to provide their Australian passport and Medicare card to receive treatment.

Private healthcare insurance in Malta 

Patients in Malta and Gozo opt for private healthcare if they want to reduce the waiting time, choose a particular specialist or facility, and get access to specific treatments. 

Paid healthcare services are very popular among Malta residents: 34.65% of total health spending in Malta is out-of-pocket payments, which is the fourth highest proportion in the EU.

Approximate costs of paid non-emergency medical services in Malta

  • general practitioner consultation — from €15;
  • dentist consultation — from €15;
  • pharmacist consultation — from €8;
  • OB-GYN — from €50;
  • ophthalmologist — from €50;
  • health screening — from €75;
  • bloodwork — from €10;
  • MRI — from €250;
  • ultrasound — from €70; 
  • digital X-ray — from €65.

Private healthcare insurance plans help cover the expenses, as well as funds required for any planned or emergency treatment. 

Who needs to purchase healthcare insurance in Malta 

Third-country travellers. Short-term visitors who come to Malta from outside the EU/Schengen Area, the UK, or Australia, are not entitled to free healthcare treatment. They need to purchase a private healthcare plan from an authorised insurer. 

Tourists who obtain Schengen visas are required to obtain travel insurance that includes health coverage. This insurance must be valid in all Schengen states, including Malta. 

The average cost rarely exceeds 6% of the trip cost.

Of the trip cost is the average tourist insurance in Malta

Malta Permanent Residence Programme participants. Getting a paid health insurance plan is one of the program’s terms. Average annual prices per plan start at €400 for the investor and €1,600 for a family of four.

Holders of European Health Insurance Cards, Global Health Insurance Cards, or Reciprocal Health Care Certificates are also advised to purchase a private healthcare policy in Malta. The aforementioned documents do not cover private treatment, and their coverage of public treatment is limited.

Average monthly prices per plan start at €25.

How to choose a private healthcare policy in Malta

The most affordable healthcare plans in Malta usually cover only inpatient and day‑patient care.

Plans that start at €100 per month usually include outpatient care, planned and complex check-ups, cancer treatment, dental, vision, and maternity care.

Some companies offer to customise your plan by adding options, like third-party liability or gender dysphoria-related emergencies.

When deciding on a paid medical plan in Malta, follow these tips: 

  1. Opt for an international plan, valid both in and outside the EU. Note that some worldwide plans are limited, and don’t include the US and Canada.
  2. Group plans, such as for families, are usually more beneficial and cost‑effective. 
  3. Expats or international students are often offered separate, cost-effective healthcare plans.
  4. See if the plan covers repatriations and emergency situations, including airlifting and evacuation. 
  5. Pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses that you might have must be covered. The same goes for maternity and newborn care, if applicable.
  6. Note if the plan has benefits based on your or your family members’ age, gender, or status. For example, there are plans that decrease payments for young children and for people over 40. 

Leading healthcare policy providers in Malta include MAPFRE MSV Life, Lifestar Insurance Limited, Ivalife Insurance Limited, Antes Insurance Brokers Limited, MIB Insurance Brokers, Atlas Insurance Malta, and Citadel Insurance. 

How to move to Malta and get free medical insurance

Maltese citizens have access to free public healthcare and are not required to purchase a policy. Foreigners can obtain Malta citizenship by registration, naturalisation, or naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment.

Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment allows applying for passports after 1 or 3 years of holding a Maltese residence permit. The three mandatory requirements are: 

  1. National Development and Social Fund contribution. Investors who contribute at least €750,000 can apply for citizenship after one year. Investors who contribute at least €600,000 can apply after three years.
  2. Non-governmental charitable organisation donation of €10,000 or more.
  3. Residential real estate investment. It is allowed to either rent a property for €16,000+ a year or buy a property for at least €700,000. The property must be rented or held for five years.

All investors and their family members also undergo the strict Eligibility Test.

What to remember about health insurance in Malta

  1. Malta’s National Health Service is known for its great quality and covers treatment in public medical facilities in the country. It is funded by social security contributions made by employed residents. All citizens of Malta are eligible for free healthcare.
  2. Not all Malta visitors can access the entire spectrum of free healthcare services. Nationals of the EU, the UK, and Australia can have limited access to essential care. Foreigners from other countries are not eligible for free treatment.
  3. Private healthcare insurance is very popular in Malta: it is often purchased by citizens. Visitors from other EU countries, the UK, and Australia are encouraged to purchase additional healthcare policies as well. Foreigners have an extensive choice of insurance plans that will cover most types of medical treatment in Malta. 
  4. Prices for healthcare plans in Malta can be as little as €25 per month, depending on the insured’s age, gender, occupation, and other factors.
  5. Malta Permanent Residence Programme participants are required to purchase a healthcare policy. Average prices start at €400 per year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is health insurance free in Malta?

Yes, for Malta citizens, residents, and expats who work legally in the country. They can get free treatment in public medical facilities; the government covers it via Malta’s National Health Service. 

Short-term visitors from other EU countries can also get essential medical treatment for free if they provide their European Health Insurance Card. So do visitors from the UK and Australia.

Temporary foreign visitors from outside the EU/Schengen Area can not get free healthcare in Malta and should purchase a medical insurance policy.

How much does health insurance cost in Malta?

Treatment in private medical facilities in Malta starts at €15 per general practitioner consultation but can reach hundreds of euros per procedure. Both residents and guests of Malta often opt for paid healthcare insurance plans that cover a broad spectrum of treatments. Prices for such plans start at €25 per month.

Is health insurance mandatory in Malta?

Depends on who is seeking medical treatment. Free healthcare is available for citizens, residents, and expats who work legally in Malta. Their treatment is covered by social security contributions, which are mandatory for employers and employees of the country. 

Paid healthcare insurance is mostly optional. However, investors who participate in the Malta Permanent Residence Programme are required to purchase one. On average, prices start at €400 per year.

Do I need travel insurance for Malta?

If you visit Malta on a Schengen Visa, you are required to get travel insurance that covers healthcare treatment. The average cost will be around 6% of the total trip spending. In other cases, insurance is optional but recommended. 

If you participate in the Malta Permanent Residence Programme, you will need to purchase a healthcare insurance policy. 

Which insurers are based in Malta?

Leading healthcare insurers in the country include MAPFRE MSV Life, Lifestar Insurance Limited, Ivalife Insurance Limited, Antes Insurance Brokers Limited, MIB Insurance Brokers, Atlas Insurance Malta, and Citadel Insurance. 

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Health insurance in Malta: free and paid treatment for residents and visitors