Considering all the recent populism, nationalism and hoopla from American voters lately, you’d think we actually had the best of everything despite the high resistance to “Obamacare“, America’s supposed answer to healthcare issues. Unfortunately, only expats, overseas employees and emigrants of other nations understand how sadly pathetic American healthcare is when compared to other developed nations and as it turns out, developing nations also. Thankfully, Diane and i haven’t needed to use the Malaysian health care system but we do visit the dentist twice a year. Unlike anything stateside, fifteen minutes and about fifty bucks cash is all you need for a quality dental experience including a check up, thorough cleaning and polishing. Almost universally educated outside Malaysia in first world nations like Australia, Germany and the USA, Malaysian dentists personify no-nonsense dentistry the way it should be. Whether you need routine cleanings, x-rays or complicated procedures like root canals, it’ so quick and inexpensive anyone can afford it and you’ll walk out mystified and wondering why the world’s only superpower can’t figure out how to provide simple, affordable dentistry.
Already having been to the dentist six months ago, our follow-up visit was so fast and easy it’s practically gone from memory. Having arrived in Malaysia armed with pages of records from our last dentist in suburban Walnut Creek, California, we’d heard it’s quick and easy but didn’t really know what to expect so we came ready for anything. Unlike most experiences all Americans are familiar with, there’s no time for reading in the waiting room, no bullshitting with your hygienist, no sitting in the chair after your name is finally called and no chatting with the dentist about last night’s ball game. In fact, there’s no hygienist at all because dentists are not highly overpaid elites that drive the best cars, charge five times what the insurance company pays and use inefficient “techs” that waste time asking stupid questions and place little bibs on people only to have the dentist ask you the same questions all over again. But they are professionals versed in the latest technology and using equipment we’d never seen in the USA like overhead screens letting you see every tooth while they check you for the first time.
As any one of my Facebook followers can attest, it’s not often I praise the U.S. Government for anything. Allowing for one exception, however, I’d like to personally thank them for the multi trillion-dollar bailout of AIG, the world’s largest insurer. Deemed “too big to fail”, they bailed AIG out of bankruptcy back in 2008 and now it thrives all over the world as a result. Expressing personal thanks to the taxpayers, Diane and I conveniently reaped the benefits by obtaining medical insurance this week. Normally not needing insurance in a country with inexpensive healthcare, one of the “Stage 2” requirements of finalizing our MM2H visa is purchasing medical Insurance that covers hospitalization in Malaysia for a one year minimum. While this may seem easy enough, Malaysians follow rules to the letter and the immigration ministry is quite specific about what they need to see as proof. Since we lIve in Penang on a fixed income, we don’t have extra days to waste waiting for a company in Kuala Lumpur to issue a policy so we decided to shop around ourselves.
spotted on the way to the insurance office
Presented with several choices, I stumbled across Allianz, another big financial firm, who happens to have an office in downtown Georgetown. Familiar with the company name from my financial services background, we walked into the office and asked about obtaining insurance. Unfortunately, they said they can’t issue a policy for MM2H holders without seeing the conditional letter of approval that’s in Kuala Lumpur, a few hundred miles away. Although we can use a Malaysian company that Joy-Stay recommends for its applicants that need help, the process is so tedious it becomes impractical. Including back and forth emails about height, weight and medical conditions, a doctor’s appointment, a report from said doctor, more emails back and forth, a fee and an annual premium twice as high as bigger companies, we decided to try AIG. Additionally, we’re in the country on a 90 day visitor visa so we really need to get the MM2H process completed soon. Choosing to travel back to KL late next month, we also have to go for a quick medical exam that Joy-Stay sets up, travel back to our bank to set up the fixed deposit and then meet our agent at the ministry’s office of immigration in Putrajaya. Easily one of the most tedious visa processes on earth, we really just want to get it done and not think about it for ten years. That’s where the “too big to fail” mantra helped out.
Before reading on, please be assured the image above came from Kenya, not Malaysia.
Technically still a “developing country”, Malaysian healthcare becomes a hot topic when discussing our impending move. Many people think only America provides highly educated quality medical services, regardless of the insane cost and ridiculous class based system that affords the best care for the lucky ones with employee sponsored group healthcare. Continue reading →