We wish traveling was always a carefree, smooth-sailing, relaxing-on-the-beach-while-sipping-cocktails experience. However, sometimes unexpected emergencies — be it a severe case of Bali Belly (traveler’s diarrhea), a surfing injury or a painful sunburn can ruin a dream vacation. Thankfully, Bali’s medical infrastructure has advanced, with air ambulances, multilingual staff and specialists in difficult emergency disciplines all represented on the island. The manager of your villa will be able to provide a local GP for medical assistance for minor illnesses. Here we have come up with a practical manual on the ins and outs of using the healthcare system in Bali.
- Public, Private Healthcare, and Pharmacies
When you visit a public hospital in Bali, remember to bring cash in Indonesian Rupiah with you. The reason you need to do this is that no credit/debit card machines are present at public hospitals in Bali and some do not accept payments via cashless or electronic wallet service. As a result, Bali expatriates typically visit private healthcare facilities which provide far superior service and also accept payment methods beyond cash.
Despite the higher medical care costs in Bali private hospitals, they are always the preferred option for Expats living on the island. While the facilities privately are relied upon for many treatments for more serious elective care many Expats will still select to go overseas mainly to Singapore.
Many drugs requiring a prescription in the West are available over the counter in Indonesia, including powerful antibiotics. The Kimia Farma (www.kimiafarma.co.id) chain is recommended. It has many locations, charges fair prices and has helpful staff. The Guardian chain of pharmacies has appeared in tourist areas, but the selection is small and prices can be shocking even to visitors from countries with high prices. Elsewhere you need to be more careful as fake medications and poorly stored or out-of-date drugs are common.
- Medical Treatment Cost and Insurance
Unless you are definitely sure that your health coverage at home will cover you in Bali, you should take out travel insurance; bring a copy of the policy as evidence that you’re covered. It’s a good idea to get a policy that pays for medical evacuation if necessary (which can cost US$100,000). Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’, which can include scuba diving, renting a local motorcycle and even trekking. Be aware that a locally acquired motorcycle license isn’t valid under some policies.
The cost of medical treatment in Bali is slightly higher than that in other parts of Indonesia because Bali is a touristic destination where expats and travelers around the world visit for both leisure and business. However, the cost in Bali is still lower than that ex-pats would expect in their home countries in Europe and North America.
In Bali, there are two main types of insurance, namely, international insurance and local insurance. Irrespective of the pros and cons of both kinds of insurance, international insurance is the most popular with expats in Bali because of its richer benefits with better servicing levels and its flexibility and portability in case you need to move to or would like medical treatment in another country. There are many medical insurers who match the needs of expats living in the region. They include Now Health, Axa and Morgan Price, all of which have a comprehensive insurance policy and include specific deductibles that can decrease their insurance premium rates.
- Inpatient and Outpatient Care
BIMC Hospital Nusa Dua, RS Bali Mandara, and Kasih Ibu General Hospital Saba are the most popular healthcare facilities for expats in Bali. They have excellent reviews online which you are advised to check them out yourself.
Visiting a doctor in an expat-friendly outpatient clinic in Indonesia is fairly easy. Popular doctors for outpatient care include . Unicare Uluwatu Medical Clinic is also a great alternative for expats and travellers alike. The cost of treatment is some of the best in Bali while still being competitively priced.
Bali’s emergency number for an ambulance service is 112. It will typically be quicker to get a cab and drive to the nearest hospital or medical center than calling an ambulance. As an expat, you should additionally be aware of the contact details for private ambulance services and those of your closest embassy that you find most accessible if an emergency case occurs.
- Dental Care
The dentists in Bali speak English fluently. Some of them have even been trained overseas. Popular dental facilities in Bali include Bali 911 Dental Clinic – Kuta, Rejuvie Dental Clinic and Hydro Medical Clinic.
Before you go make sure all medications are packed in their original, clearly labelled containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications (including generic names) is also a good idea. If you are carrying syringes or needles, be sure to have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity. If you have a heart condition ensure you bring a copy of an electrocardiogram taken just prior to travelling. If you take any regular medication bring double your needs in case of loss or theft. You can buy many medications over the counter without a doctor’s prescription, but it can be difficult to find some of the newer drugs, particularly the latest antidepressant drugs, blood-pressure medications and contraceptive pills.
For another information just so you can be always safe Tap water in Bali is never safe to drink. Widely available and cheap, bottled water is generally safe but check the seal is intact when purchasing. Look for places that allow you to refill containers, thus cutting down on landfill. Most ice in restaurants is fine if it is uniform in size and made at a central plant (standard for large cities and tourist areas). Avoid ice that is chipped off larger blocks (more common in rural areas). Avoid fresh juices outside of tourist restaurants and cafes.
As you travel to Bali we recommend some things you need to pack in your luggage. Here are, recommended items for a convenient personal medical kit (other items can be easily obtained on Bali if needed):
- antibacterial cream (eg muciprocin)
- antihistamine – there are many options (eg cetirizine for daytime and promethazine for night)
- antiseptic (eg Betadine)
- DEET-based insect repellent
- first-aid items such as scissors, bandages, thermometer (but not a mercury one) and tweezers
- ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory
- steroid cream for allergic/itchy rashes (eg 1% to 2% hydrocortisone)
- sunscreen and hat
Last but not least it is important to be mindful of where medical and dental care providers are situated as well as how much healthcare costs are in your specific area of Bali. Select an insurance policy that perfectly matches your needs and the needs of your loved ones.