The Malaysian government will offer tax exemptions to all private hospitals that are willing to transform their institutions into medical tourism destinations. Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai says that all hospitals will be required to improve the quality of services, especially in terms of comfort and space in hospitals, and the quality of the workforce.
He adds that tax exemptions will also be granted to hospitals that received accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI) based on their quality of services to patients, “The tax exemption was presented in the 2010 budget. Now we are in discussions with the Ministry of Finance to formalise this tax and allow accredited hospitals to claim the tax exemption."
Malaysia currently has eight hospitals accredited by the JCI, in addition to 41 private hospitals registered under the MHTC. The government has also made provisions for expenses incurred by private hospitals to obtain domestic or internationally recognised accreditation to be eligible for double deduction incentive under the Income Tax Act 1967.The accreditation includes those conferred by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health
(MSQH) and those accredited by Joint Commission International. There are 71 hospitals accredited by MSQH.
The government is very committed in promoting Malaysia as a medical healthcare tourism destination and aims to attract more than 1.9 million medical tourists by 2020.It says that at the moment, the country gets 400,000 healthcare travelers a year and expects to increase that number to 440,000 this year. Other government efforts to promote healthcare tourism include relaxing existing advertising regulations and guidelines to accommodate the changing role of private hospitals in promoting healthcare travel.
Private hospitals involved in the healthcare tourism industry will get a 100% tax exemption for the construction of new hospitals and for the expansion, modernisation and refurbishment of existing ones. The government is finalising the provision for tax exemption equivalent to 100% of qualifying capital expenditure.
The move is in line with government efforts to improve medical tourism destinations in the country, as well as the overall tourism sector. The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council
(MHTC) is now exploring opportunities with industry players and television stations in Hong Kong and China to promote Malaysia as a health tourism destination. MHTC is also promoting the industry in the Middle East, Indonesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Europe. Dr Mary Wong Lai Lin of MHTC says, “Many foreigners do not know that Malaysia is a healthcare tourism destination due to the lack of promotion of the industry abroad. However, our prices are very competitive and we offer high quality care and value-for-money services. The largest numbers of health tourists come from Indonesia, Britain and China.”