Materia Medica Malaysiana

April 9, 2008

Liow: Open forum to discuss health scheme

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:09 am

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry is keen to have a public debate on the National Health Financing Scheme.
Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said a public forum would be the “best way” to address issues and problems on the implementation of the scheme.
“I would like to have a public debate. Let us talk about it,” Liow said in an interview on Monday.
“This is something which will help the people and the Government have better health services in the country.”
When the idea was first mooted 25 years ago, certain parties raised concerns about how the scheme would be implemented.
The proposals included having it modelled after the EPF and Socso schemes where “eligible” employees make monthly payments through a deduction from their salary and both the scheme and the National Health Financing Authority overseeing it would be non-profit and not privatised.
Former Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek announced in 2004 that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had given approval and the “general principles” had been agreed upon.
Consultants were also appointed to look into the details of the mechanism and there were even calls for a Royal Commission to be set up to get broad feedback before it was introduced.
Liow admitted that it was not going to be easy for the Government to have such a scheme because it might not be a popular decision.
However, he said the Government “did not have much choice” where the present system has left it subsidising almost 98% of healthcare in the country.
He, however, said it would take about three to four years before the scheme could be implemented.
A plus point of having the scheme was that the people would be able to get treatment either in the private or public sector where the Government would be able to use all existing doctors instead of the current system, he said.
“One way to solve this problem is to have an insurance scheme. It does not matter whether you go to the government or the private sector. The doctor will treat you and the insurance will pay,” he said.
A minus point, however, would be the risk of the government or insurance company going bankrupt because the public had developed a “buffet mentality”.
Asked who was likely to take charge of the scheme, he said it did not matter because the most important thing was for the people to enjoy the benefits.

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