Tuesday, July 13, 2010

malaysiakini: Xavier Jayakumar says 70% stand to lose with proposed health scheme

70% stand to lose with proposed health scheme
Joseph Sipalan
malaysiakini, Jul 13, 2010, 5:22pm
Around 70 percent of Malaysians will stand to lose if the federal government goes ahead to implement its National Health Financing Scheme (NHFS), said the Selangor government.

xavier jayakumar pc 190110 01Selangor state executive councillor Xavier Jayakumar (left) said the scheme will unduly burden the people, as it merely allows the federal government to pass on the responsibility of healthcare costs to the public.

He said that 70 percent of the nation uses public hospitals, while there is no slowdown in the rate of migration of doctors from the public to the private sector.

“Under the present system, you can just walk in (to a public hospital) and pay RM2, you see a doctor and get free medication,” Jayakumar said at a press conference at the state assembly today.

“Under the new scheme, if you are not insured you will have to pay at the market rate. Seventy percent of the population earns below RM3,000 and go to public hospitals... they cannot afford this.”

Two days ago, Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai announced that the NHFS will work on a flat contribution rate and will not leave out the poor, giving an assurance that the government will cover the full costs of primary healthcare treatment for those who cannot afford it.

Underspending on healthcare

Jayakumar queried Liow's
reasons for making the announcement, saying that neither the people nor the federal government itself is ready for the scheme.

“We have been talking about this (NHFS) for a long time, but why make this announcement out of the blue?

“The health minister himself said that it will take another 10 years before they can fully implement the scheme... which should not be put in place unless it has been thoroughly looked into,” he said.

Jayakumar blasted the federal government for prioritising reduced national healthcare expenditure, claiming that Malaysia's less prosperous neighbours can still afford to provide a bigger healthcare budget to their citizens.

He chided the federal government for comparing its 2009 healthcare budget of RM13.7 billion to revenue collected from the industry, which stands at below five percent of its annual expenditure.

Jayakumar pointed out that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended that for developing countries between six to seven percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be set aside for healthcare.

“Based on our GDP of RM500 billion, Malaysia is only spending around two percent of its GDP on Malaysian healthcare.

“Thailand spends nearly eight percent of its GDP on healthcare, and they have a very good scheme for their citizens. If they can do it, why can't it work for us?,” he said.

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