Kuala Lumpur, 25 January 2019 – “Yesterday’s launch of the mySalam health insurance scheme to provide coverage for those in the B40 group is a critical step in the right direction towards eventually introducing a national social health insurance scheme for all,” stated Galen Centre Chief Executive Azrul Mohd Khalib commenting on this development.
“This pilot scheme by the Ministry of Finance will help plug the existing protection gap in ensuring that a higher proportion of the population is financially insured against the event of a health need or serious medical condition such as cancer.”
“Currently, only 60 percent of Malaysians have some form of insurance. As a result, out-of-pocket (OOP) healthcare expenditure is at a high 39 percent which strains household finances and causes severe financial hardship. B40 and a significant proportion of M40 households are particularly vulnerable to health-related financial catastrophe,” said Azrul.
However, there are a number of concerns raised related to mySalam which needs to be addressed to provide assurance to those signing up for the insurance scheme.
- How is the scheme going to be sustained beyond the initial RM2 billion from Great Eastern and after the initial five year period?
- Will patients be able to access both private and public healthcare facilities for treatment under this scheme?
- If this is an insurance scheme, reimbursement will be to private hospitals for treatment costs, rather than public hospitals. Shouldn’t the RM 2 billion instead be channeled into strengthening the public health system?
- How is the govt going to avoid charging first class rates to B40 patients under this scheme when they eventually get referred back to the public healthcare facilities? Current law requires that referral patients from private sector be charged first class rates. Is the law going to be amended to prevent this from happening to patients?
“A national initiative of such magnitude and importance would usually have a rigorous and extensive consultation process prior to being implemented, particularly with stakeholders who are most affected and relevant. Arguably, this was not the case,” said Azrul.
“There was a lack of clarity regarding what was intended, how it is being financed, who is involved and most importantly, what problem is being addressed and the support being provided through this scheme. Stakeholders were anxious and forced to speculate, resulting in distrust, misunderstanding and opposition to what is a good intention.”
“We need to move away from the mindset that government knows best and that only minimum consultation is necessary. Better and more effective policies which work for people can be made with rigorous consultation and discussion.”
— END —