Saturday, December 15, 2007

Malta Medical Care

I got a question from a student in the US on whether Malta had socialized medicine or highly subsidized medicine.  I had answered that I didn't know, but thought it was subsidized.  Apparently, it is somewhat subsidized (I'm open to comments from any Maltese readers!). 

I asked my friend Carmen about it.  She says pensioners and people with low income do have cards that give them free care.  Everyone else pays.  She also reminded me that doctors recently agreed to a new contract with nearly double the pay of the old one, and that is a government-paid thing, I believe. I'm still unclear on whether that is all doctors or just those who would use the new hospital, Mater Dei, participate. I am also unclear whether doctors get one rate for hospital service and can supplement it with office visit fees like what I experienced.  The reason for the big increase was that Malta was losing doctors to better paying places in the world.  Now, some are returning and they are keeping a greater percentage of the newly-minted ones.  

I asked if there was private medical insurance.  There is, but it is generally less expensive to just pay out of hand (I am still unclear what happens in the event of a major illness for those who must pay).  I asked about the low price I paid for my doctor visit, and she said the visits ranged between 2 and 4 liri.  She also said it should be evaluated in light of the local income levels.  But, even that doesn't explain it to an American, where the average family income for a family of 4 is $60,000 (around LM17,000)--and that's not counting the growing income inequality in the US.

SO... Malta's medical care is not socialized  and may be less subsidized than I thought.  But, it doesn't seem as costly as in the US for the little everyday medical troubles.  I shall keep asking around and paying more attention to this question. 

5 comments:

pawlu said...

Hospital care in Malta in government-run hospitals is free for everyone irrespective of income. If you go to a private hospital, you have to pay. What your friend Carmen meant was related to medicines. Elderly and people in lower income brackets are provided with what is called a pink card. This card provides holders with free medicines. Although this card covers the most common items, there are certain medicines which are not covered. If you required a GP or family doctor, you can go to one of the Health Clinics. You will not be charged anything. If you go to private doctor, you need to pay. Something else which may not be common in the States is that if you are too sick to go out of bed, the doctor will visit you at home

Mary said...

Thanks for the great clarification. Here's a question
MUST a doctor be in the new govt contract?

pawlu said...

I am not sure I understood your question accurately but if you mean whether doctors must form part of the National Health Service, i.e. employed by government, the answer is no – doctors can run their own private practice independently of the government service or can be employed by private hospitals or clinics. Some doctors practice in both the public and the private sectors.

Further to your blog, the new agreement between government and doctors covers doctors (and nurses) in government employment only.

pawlu said...

I am not sure I understood your question accurately but if you mean whether doctors must form part of the National Health Service, i.e. employed by government, the answer is no – doctors can run their own private practice independently of the government service or can be employed by private hospitals or clinics. Some doctors practice in both the public and the private sectors.

Further to your blog, the new agreement between government and doctors covers doctors (and nurses) in government employment only.

Mary said...

Thanks, you answered my question.