Monday, July 12, 2010

The Sun: Flat rate contribution for healthcare scheme By Hemananthani Sivanandam

Flat rate contribution for healthcare scheme
By Hemananthani Sivanandam, The Sun, 12 July 2010, Monday, Front page news

Minister of Health, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (third left) sharing a light moment with a group of seminar participant after
presenting his opening address on Malaysian Pharmaceutial Society and Malaysian Medical Association Seminar at the
Medical Academies of Malaysia near Jalan Tun Razak here, today. Looking on, President Malaysia Medical Association,
Dr. David Quek (second left) and President Malaysia Pharmaceutical Society, Datuk Nancy Ho (center). - Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR (July 11, 2010):
The proposed National Health Financing Scheme will work on a flat rate and not be scaled to the income of the contributors, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said today.

He said everyone needs only to contribute a set minimal amount monthly, as there will be only one standard scheme to provide primary health care for all Malaysians.

“It’s not like insurance where there are many kind of schemes. It is only one. It does not follow your salary scale where the higher you earn, the higher you pay. It’s a flat rate,” said Liow after officiating at the ‘Doctors and Pharmacist As Partners in Healthcare’ seminar today.

Liow said as such, those who want extra services will have to fork out extra or opt to buy medical insurance for themselves.

He however gave an assurance that the poor and the needy will be taken care of, even if they do not contribute to the scheme.

"Those who can’t afford to pay will be fully paid for by the government,” said Liow, adding that a cut-off point will be established for contributions, whereby those earning below a certain income level will be exempted from paying.

Asked if the scheme will affect clinics with the pre-determined flat rates paid per patient, Liow said the patients will have to pay part of the cost if the cost of their trea
tment exceeds the flat rate.

“They (clinics) will be paid a flat rate.... say RM40, so if the cost of the trea
tment and medicine is more than RM40, then the extra will have to be paid by the patient," he added.

In an immediate reaction, Malaysian Medical Association (
MMA) president Dr David Quek told theSun the association is "cautiously optimistic" about the proposed scheme.

"We believe in the system but the proposed scheme may not be sustainable as the out-of-pocket cost is rising," said Quek.

He said should the proposed scheme be implemented, the premium or contribution must be low for the public to "buy into the system."

"Our policy has always been to encourage the government to provide equitable healthcare for all but we need to educate the public on this matter," said Quek, adding that
MMA believes the poor and the elderly are the groups that should be given serious consideration.

Under the proposed health financing scheme every adult who earns an income has to contribute a certain amount to a fund which will be administered by the proposed National Health Financing Authority, a statutory body under the health ministry.

The scheme was first proposed during the Fourth Malaysia Plan (1981-1985) but never took off.

In June 2008, Liow however announced that the ministry would "relook" at the proposed scheme, which reportedly may take at least 10 years to be implemented as there are many areas to be looked into.

Saying the scheme is still at the proposal stage, Liow invited the public to give their feedback.

“We have engaged with the stakeholders and now we want to talk to the public. It is a big scheme. It’s a total transformation of the healthcare system."

"It cannot be done instantly and it cannot be carried out without proper, thorough planning,” said Liow adding that the public can post their feedback at his blog ( or at the ministry’s website. -- theSun

No comments: