Medical facilities and services are adequate in Malaysia's larger cities, where Western-trained doctors can be found. You can find a list of English-speaking doctors and hospitals here (PDF - 249kb). Psychological and psychiatric medical and counseling services are limited. Malaysian ambulance attendants lack training equivalent to their U.S. counterparts. Callers to Malaysia's "999" emergency number (equivalent to the U.S. 911) are connected to the Red Crescent, and patients are directed to whichever hospital the dispatcher chooses. Americans staying in Malaysia for extended periods, especially those who have known health problems, are advised to investigate private ambulance services in their area and to provide family and close contacts with the direct telephone number(s) of the service they prefer.
If you become seriously ill or injured in Malaysia, we can inform family or friends if you request, and can assist in the transfer of funds from the United States. However, payment of hospital and other expenses is your responsibility.
Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services although major credit cards are accepted by many. Medical care in Malaysia is generally cheaper than in the U.S. But evacuation to the U.S. in serious cases is very expensive. Although many health insurance companies will pay "customary and reasonable" hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States. Several companies sell medical evacuation insurance; an internet search can easily locate them.
We recommend you ask your health insurance company what services are covered overseas. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United States, remember to carry both your insurance policy identity card and a claim form. Medicare does not provide coverage outside the U.S., and senior citizens may wish to contact the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) for information about foreign medical care coverage with Medicare supplement plans.
To facilitate identification in case of an accident, complete the information page on the inside of your passport providing the name, address and telephone number of someone to be contacted in an emergency. We also recommend that anyone with pre-existing medical problems carry a letter from his or her physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications (including the generic name). Medications brought overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled to reduce the possibility of problems with local customs officials.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travelers' health web page
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- World Health Organization International Travel and Health Report
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