Kuala Lumpur, 31 January 2020 — The recent news that SOCSO (Social Security Organisation) has revised its guidelines regarding subsidised dialysis treatment will most likely cause hardship and deprive those who are most vulnerable of much needed treatment. Instead, a co-pay mechanism based on means testing should be introduced, recommends the Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy.
“SOCSO was set up to act as a social safety net for workers, particularly looking out for those from the lower income group,” said Azrul Mohd Khalib, Galen Centre’s chief executive when commenting on this development.
“Of concern is the revised requirement that insured workers have contributed at least 24 months consecutively within a 40 month period which is particularly harsh as it will potentially deprive newly employed individuals of the benefits of subsidised dialysis treatment.”
“In this economic climate, not everyone is fortunate enough to continuously hold down a job for that duration, particularly at the minimum wage level. The reason why many workers are accessing this SOCSO benefit is because they can’t afford treatment. With this ruling, what do you expect poor workers to do?”
“In comparison, private health insurance has a waiting period of up to three months before a person can submit claims. SOCSO is asking for two years of contributions before you are eligible.”
Rather than acting as an incentive for a person to be formally employed, this prerequisite will instead act as a gateway intended to exclude rather than include those needing this particular medical benefit.
“With non-communicable diseases increasing significantly each year and cases of people with chronic kidney disease having more than one or more comorbidities such as diabetes, this is an ongoing funding problem that will not go away simply by excluding a group of people,” said Azrul.
“We must also remember that incidence of end stage renal disease disproportionately affects and is higher among patients who are of low-income.”
“We hope that in the name of public interest, SOCSO will consider releasing the contents of the memorandum titled “Proposed Action Plans To Bridge The Gap Between SOCSO’s Assets And Liability And Improve Fund’s Sustainability” which was presented at their board meeting last year. We understand that the arguments in this memorandum form the basis for this revision.”
“It is a known fact for at least a decade now that SOCSO needs to put in place reforms to ensure funding sustainability in the years ahead. There is no such thing as free services. These services must be paid for. Therefore, instead of excluding a whole category of new workers, we suggest that SOCSO introduces a co-payment approach for all those insured, using means testing to provide for levels of subsidisation. That should be the approach to take.”