Reasons why many Indonesians have Medical Treatment Abroad - GO.CARE Blog
Reasons why many Indonesians have Medical Treatment Abroad
Author: Phuong Ho
Review Date: August 3, 2018 | Last Modified: August 3, 2018
Reasons why many Indonesians have Medical Treatment Abroad

In recent years, there has been an ongoing trend of Indonesians seeking medical treatment in neighboring countries e.g. Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand. According to recent statistics, 30-40 percent of foreign patients in Singapore hospitals at any one time are Indonesian.

The Wave of Medical Tourism

 When asked why they opt for medical treatment abroad instead of domestic one, many Indonesians answer that the health care sector in their country is poor and the price of medical help abroad is acceptable considering its quality.

Moreover, as the neighboring countries, such as Singapore and Malaysia, are now aggressively promoting their health care services in Indonesia, which can be seen in advertisements with attractive slogans such as “affordable health check-ups” or “health tourism,” the widespread wave of “medical tourism” in Indonesia has become much stronger.

Yet the Indonesian government appears oblivious to all this. It has also paid little attention to the sales of illegal alternative medicines and questionable medical techniques in their own. You can see deceitful advertising banners displayed non-surgical cures for cataracts, medicines to treat cancer and programs that claim to make people lose a considerable amount of weight in a week everywhere.

Highly Qualified Doctors

However, it is not the skills and attitudes of the health care professionals working in Indonesia that is poor, but the system. The treatment that patients receive when going directly to specialist is often not holistic.

Take an overweight person for example, if the patient visits a nutritionist, they may be diagnosed with an eating disorder, while visiting a psychiatrist gives the result of depression. The best solution would be to visit a general practitioner (GP) before seeking more specialized treatment.

The problem here is that Indonesian people believe that GPs are not much trustworthy, and that foreign doctors are more reliable with more profound medical knowledge in recent advances in health and medicine.

Advanced Technology and Equipment

Advanced health care technologies and equipment also play an important factor in why Indonesian are willing to spend more money travelling overseas for medical treatment.

Considering the fact that Malaysia and Singapore are more economically and scientifically developed than Indonesia, it is easy to understand why Indonesians are willing to pay extra cash in order to get more modern and advanced equipment along with better health care service.

Going Beyond Customer Service

Moreover, the excellent customer service abroad is also worth every single penny. Indonesian hospitals and pharmacies have no concept of customer service and patients are often forced to wait a long time to see a doctor.

In Singapore, Malaysia and other health care tourism centers, hospital appointments are scheduled to avoid long queues. Many pharmacists in such countries also message their patients to notify them to pick up their medicine, and doctors rarely keep their patients waiting.

This level of service does not seem to be available in Indonesia, where consultations are often hurried due to the limited time doctors have, and nurses are just as busy, sometimes even unwilling to help. Needless to say, patients are happy to pay extra to be explained more thoroughly about their conditions.

Less Complicated Regulation

Compared to Indonesia, procedures and regulations regarding health services in other health travel destinations are perceived to be less complicated and more straight forward.

For instance, it is argued that there is limitation on the number of specialist doctors that are available in Indonesia and in public hospitals, the number of nurses is not adequate, due to complicated procedure and regulation. This does not support the development of the health services sector in Indonesia.


The last reason may apply to upper class patients who are financially capable in performing even basic health services overseas. While most people would see going overseas for medical treatment as expensive, to this group. For instance, going to Singapore, which requires significantly more budget, may provide prestige and indicate a certain social status.


In conclusion, the number of people seeking medical treatment abroad has risen dramatically in recent years, and will definitely continue as is in the future. Contributing factors including more advanced technology, better customer services and simple medical regulation help promote medical tourism more widely across the country. This trend of medical tourism will continue to spread not only in Indonesia, but also next-door countries as well.

Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and other healthcare tourism centers will continue to increase business, until or if something is done to encourage patients to stay in Indonesia, or their home countries, by offering and promoting better health care services.

Contact Go.Care to find the most suitable treatment for you health condition and style your medical trip.

  1. Many Indonesians Go Abroad For Medical Care, But Why?  Accessed on August 3, 2018.