Malaysia has been promoting medical and health tourism for several years but the reality is that this is unlikely to become a major contribution to the nation’s coffers for foreign exchange earnings.
Some private hospitals and clinics are good enough to be recognised as suitable, safe, and cost-effective choices for foreign patients. As healthcare costs in some other countries escalate, this drives people to look elsewhere. Most international patients come from nearby countries with less developed medical infrastructure e.g. Indonesia, Bangladesh, Burma and Russia. Other medical tourists come mainly from Europe, Australasia, and the Middle East.
To promote medical tourism, the government will enhance tax incentives for healthcare service providers who offer services to foreign health tourists. There is an incentive for income tax exemption of 50 per cent on the value of these increased exports. Most doctors are not really aware as to the exact mechanisms of tax rebates under such circumstances. With the 2010 budget, this rebate will be increased to 100 per cent to encourage private hospitals and healthcare facilities to promote their services more aggressively overseas. Thus, essentially all earnings from foreign health tourists will be tax exempt. Whether this extends to earnings from the professional aspects/fees of individual doctors and specialists is still unclear. This incentive is expected to enable healthcare service providers to offer high quality health services, to continually raise standards and to promote more assertively overseas to attract greater numbers of health tourists.
According to a new research report from RNCOS, "Malaysia Medical Tourism Outlook 2012" infrastructure development and low cost treatment will boost the Malaysian medical tourism market with annual growth of 23% a year between 2009 and 2012.The report provides information of a whole range of topics from key competitors to new market trends.