Troubling issues with Indonesia’s healthcare

What to expect from their healthcare system

Troubling issues with Indonesia’s healthcare

Although Indonesia is one of the richest South Asian countries, the group of islands are still facing serious problems with their healthcare services, making it hard for locals and expats to get the help they need.

Medical corruption

Indonesia is troubled by a high rate of corruption throughout the country’s public sector, and the healthcare system is no exception. Doctors’ priorities are not always based on the level of urgency but rather the price on offer. Despite healthcare belonging to a universal healthcare system, a gap in care between the rich and poor is therefore still evident in Indonesia.

Corruption in the public healthcare system in Indonesia is largely a result of the low wages that doctors receive. The private healthcare system has virtually no corruption, with wages typically being much higher. It’s advisable that expats seek out private healthcare when living in Indonesia, but be prepared for the higher costs associated. Private health insurance like Cigna Global  is recommended, which will cover the costs and keep you protected if you leave the country as well.  

Poor quality of public health services

Although the government is trying to improve the quality of the public health services, most of them are still considered low-quality. Despite their efforts, this lack of quality has made Indonesia’s healthcare system one of the worst in South Asian countries.


Even if Indonesian doctors have medical diplomas, it doesn’t mean they are always fit to treat patients or have the qualifications to do so. The high corruption rates are also an issue in the education system, where places in health schools can be bought: the lower your grades are, the more you pay to get into medical school. This has weakened the required entry standards of people studying medicine.

On top of this corruption, the health schools do not always follow the global accreditation standards, which explains why their diploma cannot be recognized out of the country. Many expats coming from wealthier countries find doctors to have very low professional and clinical skills, so it’s important to be careful when choosing your doctor. Asking for recommendations in expat communities is a good place to start.


Quality is also lacking in many of Indonesia’s health facilities. Out of Indonesia’s 1,800 hospitals, only 16 are internationally accredited , which are generally privately owned. This means most of them do not necessarily follow international health guidelines. Even though you can find ‘decent’ public hospitals in the big urban areas, they don’t always have the necessary medical equipment needed for certain treatments, reliable electricity or even clean water.

Most expats decide to use group practice medical clinics to avoid these low standards, which have been designed to serve foreigners. These clinics might be more expensive, but they are more similar to the standards of the facilities in other countries and offer a wider range of services. You also have a higher chance of finding an English-speaking doctor since they are used to having expats coming in.

Few medical clinics and hospitals accept payments by credit card, so be sure to carry enough cash before going.

Emergency services

If you’re facing a medical emergency where help is required as fast as possible, it is not always possible to get an ambulance right away. In fact, there are no existing nationwide emergency medical services, which means that ambulance services are run individually by hospitals. These are not always reliable, so you might have to wait hours before they come, and paramedics don’t all have the same training level.

It is highly recommended for expats to inform themselves about private ambulance services, which could be very useful in case of an emergency. Most group practice medical clinics do offer ambulance services, as well as emergency room services. Private health insurance will allow you to access private services and get the emergency care you need.

Don’t take chances

When it comes to the Indonesian health care system, it is better to be safe than sorry. Take precautions before flying to the country and make sure to get all the necessary information you need.

Further reading

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