Government plan for better health care systemby DATUK DR HASAN ABDUL RAHMAN,
Director General of Health, Malaysia.
The Star, Friday May 13, 2011RECENTLY, there have been a number of articles and comments regarding the Government’s efforts to improve our health system, ‘MMA: Talk to Stakeholders (The Star, April 18), ‘Provide Adequate Healthcare’ (The Star, April 26) and ‘Government healthcare plan must be carefully studied’ (The Star, May 1).
I am responding in view of the misconception and inaccuracy of the information as the Health Ministry (MOH) and government want readers to receive the correct picture.
The Government and the MOH are still in the planning process and have been consulting widely to get input into the blueprint that is being developed over these two years. Absolutely no decision has been made on the details of the transformation.
To date, MOH has also conducted more than 100 sessions of the discussions, dialogues, forums, focus group discussion and meetings involving at least 62 stakeholders, including the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
Ten Technical Working Groups (TWGs) have been created to study and suggest relevant options for the new system.
Representatives from various stakeholder groups such as professional bodies and external agencies, including MMA are members in these TWGs.
Under 1Care, patients will have the choice to register with any qualified primary health care provider (PHCP) who will be their personal doctor.
Yet, the public is allowed to change their provider if they want. These measurements are to improve the quality and responsiveness of the health care system.
If the patient needs referral to a specialist or for hospitalisation, arrangements will be made through their family physician to either a public or private facility.
Globally, this is a proven mechanism to facilitate appropriate access to higher level care. At the same time, the patient is free to choose additional services through their own funding as they do currently.
Therefore, contrary to setting up monopolies, 1Care is designed to improve efficiency through provision of greater choice and better control on cost of health care delivery.
Funding for 1Care 1Malaysia is based on the principles of social health insurance where the risk of falling sick and paying for health care is shared across the whole population.
Therefore, the rich support the poor, the healthy support the sick and the economically productive support dependents.
In contrast, private health insurance is individually risk-related to each person’s pre-existing condition, age, health history and other factors.
The MOH has always stated that the financial management of 1Care will be handled by a not-for-profit government statutory body accountable to the MOH, and should not be privatised.
I reiterate again that the invitation of the MOH and government for stakeholders to participate selflessly and constructively in the planning process for health system improvement.
It is a legacy we will provide to our nation for years to come and we should work together to develop a blueprint that will provide the rakyat with a health system that meets the needs of the population.