News eDaily08 Aug 2018

Malaysia:Doctors call for universal health insurance

08 Aug 2018

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has voiced reservations over a proposed insurance scheme for those in the B40 group (bottom 40% in terms of income), suggesting instead a compulsory social health insurance for all.

In a statement, MMA president Dr Mohamed Namazie Ibrahim said the compulsory social health insurance scheme should be in line with the principle of universal health coverage that is endorsed by the World Health Organisation, and to be managed by a “not-for-profit” National Health Financing Authority, a statutory agency answerable to the parliament.

“The role of the Health Ministry needs to be re-evaluated as it currently has dual function as a regulatory body and as a healthcare provider that leads to conflict of interests.

MMA calls for public and various stakeholders’ engagement before the proposed B40 health insurance scheme is tabled for the best outcome with a high acceptance level by the public. So far, the MMA has not been consulted on the matter. Deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye has said that the proposed insurance protection scheme would be tabled in the 2019 Budget to Parliament sitting in October.

“An insurance scheme targeted at a particular segment of the population may not be sustainable,” Dr Mohamed Namazie Ibrahim said.

While the middle- and high-income groups are largely covered by private health insurance provided by employers or employee health benefit schemes, he said, they would be vulnerable if they lost their jobs and the accompanying health cover.

“A small percentage of this group, especially the self-employed, may have self-funded private health insurance and is again vulnerable to personal financial downturns.”

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