From 1 January 2011, the Malaysian government has made health insurance compulsory for all foreign workers.
The Foreign Worker Hospitalization & Surgical Insurance Scheme makes it compulsory for employers to provide health insurance coverage to all foreign workers aged 19 to 59 in Malaysia.
Employers who have not arranged insurance and paid premiums by March, risk the non-renewal of foreign worker’s permits.
The insurance only offers cashless treatment within government hospitals in the country. There are set premiums and limits. Foreign workers covered under the insurance scheme, are entitled to government hospital care.
There are two million foreign workers registered in Malaysia, predominantly employed as labourers or domestic servants, but the law applies equally to skilled workers and professionals.
There are 32 insurers currently authorized to offer cover on the scheme.
Local employers are not happy with the new law and some refuse to comply.
At present there seems to be no exclusion for workers with international private medical insurance, but as the latter offers more extensive and private treatment, it would be wrong to remove this cover and replace it with the compulsory one, so expatriate employers should regard the new law just as another tax.