Taxing Health

GST is on everyone’s minds these days. Here are the highlights every smart consumer should know.

The elephant in the room right now is none other than GST (Goods and Services Tax), which has caused a fair share of confusion. The general consensus is… “We don’t like it!”

It must be said, however, that the implementation of GST is meant to benefit the country, as there will now be additional taxes on certain goods. For consumers, these benefits translate to fairer prices because of the elimination of double taxation and for business owners, it is believed that there will be a cost reduction in running their enterprises when they claim the GST incurred via business inputs. The good news is, basic necessities such as rice, poultry, meat, vegetables, cooking oil, sugar and so on are exempted from GST. This is in order to protect people in the lower and middle-income brackets, from feeling an additional financial burden.

However, when it comes to healthcare, consumers are rightfully concerned that prices for medicine, private healthcare and hospital stays, will increase.  Making smart choices and knowing what is and what isn’t taxable is crucial so you don’t end up paying more than you should.

Here’re some of the essentials about GST and healthcare that will help you become a smart consumer.

What it means:

Zero-rated supplies: No GST is collected from the consumer.

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Healthcare services provided by the government won’t be charged GST. In private healthcare facilities, the consumer will not be charged GST.

2900 brands of medication on the National Essential Medicines List  (NEML), which can be found at <> have been categorised as zero-rated GST. This includes antiretroviral therapy, vitamins and minerals, antihistamines, psychotherapeutic medicines and more. Medicines not on the NEML list will have a GST charge. For the complete list, refer to the GST website at:

For ease of identification by the authorities, business owners and consumers, the letter ‘Z,’ which refers to zero-rated supplies (no GST applied) will be added to the end of the registration  code for medical products that are registered with the Drug Control Authority under the Ministry of Health Malaysia. An example of the registration code is as follows: MAL123456789AZ.

Goods used as medical aids, such as wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids and prosthetic limbs are subject to GST.


For the most recent information and assistance, go to:

Check out: to download GST guides for different industries.

To speak to someone who can help and for latest updates, call the Malaysian Customs Call Center at 03-78067200/1300-888500; Fax: 03-78067599; or e-mail:

References: The Star Online; Malaysia Goods & Services Tax (GST) Royal Malaysian Customs Department;

Editor’s note: This information is accurate at the time of publication.

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