Jan 6, 2017

MEF: Health insurance overhaul enriches private hospitals, burdens employers

MEF: Health insurance overhaul enriches private hospitals, burdens employers


KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has rejected a proposal for a national health insurance system that would allow all Malaysians to visit any hospital, private or public, and eventually remove the distinction between the two.

MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said that such a move would only enrich private hospitals and result in employers needing to fork out more money in order to fund the scheme.

“Allowing each individual and businesses to manage the medical risks of individuals, and employer’s obligation towards the employee is a better choice.

“There are 30 million people in the country and only about 14 million are in the workforce. Both private and government staff. Are employers then to pay for the 14 million unemployed people to enjoy this so-called benefit as well?” he told Malay Mail Online.

“Public hospitals cater for the general health of the rakyat and the profitability of operations had never been their consideration. Private hospitals meanwhile are in the business of making profits.

“When the two business models are different, to suggest that an insurance scheme be introduced so that the rakyat can have access to both public and private hospitals is a mockery,” Shamsuddin added.

He argued further that the move would result in Malaysians eventually being heavily taxed.

“So who’s paying for all this modernisation? Rakyat would be heavily taxed to the maximum advantage of the hospital operations — especially private hospitals.

“The government collects taxes from individuals and corporations to provide basic public services including health services. Why collect more from the people when they have already paid for basic health services?” he said, adding that Putrajaya is only allocating 3.8 per cent of its current budget for health services as opposed to 10 per cent in developed nations.

Shamsuddin was responding to Malay Mail Online’s report on Wednesday on doctors backing a countrywide health insurance system that would alleviate the burden at government hospitals which are being swamped now due to their low costs, while making private hospitals — currently shunned due to their prices — more accessible.

The doctors further argue that the proposal which would entail a single-payer, multiple-provider arrangement, could lead to better overall health care services for Malaysians, lower out-of-pocket spending, reduced waiting times and more modern medicines and technology.

“Under such system, the one assured of making huge profits would be the administrator of the single payer system. A good example is the case of medical examination of foreign workers. Before the single-payer system was introduced, the fees for medical examination was about RM60 to RM70 per pax, but was increased to RM180/RM190 per pax (after the single-payer system).

“This amounts to daylight robbery!” he said, adding that any insurance scheme not related to risk will be very unfair to those from the lower risk group when they too have to pay the same premium rate imposed onto the higher risk category.

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