PETALING JAYA: MCA president Wee Ka Siong said reducing the red tape in making claims under the mySalam programme is more important than extending it to cover a greater section of society.
Launched by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad early last year, the free public health protection scheme provides takaful protection for the low-income B40 group if they are diagnosed with critical illnesses.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the scheme would be extended to cover the middle-income (M40) group — with around eight million Malaysians now eligible for the scheme compared with only 4.3 million previously.
Lim said RM13.7 million was paid out to 9,662 recipients under the insurance scheme last year.
Wee welcomed the government’s move to help Malaysians address financial difficulties when faced with any of the 45 critical illnesses recognised by mySalam.
However, he said extending coverage of the scheme that had “failed to even address the original targeted group’s needs to cover double the number of people just means the scheme will meet with double the failure”.
“Since many still find it difficult to claim from the scheme due to red tape, it is high time for the government to improve the application procedure,” Wee said on his Facebook page today.
He said he had raised issues about the difficulty in making claims under the scheme in Parliament last November.
“If only 3.5% of the entire RM400 million mySalam allocation is spent on the B40 group, it shows that the elite group in the finance ministry has been way off-target in their calculation of the compensation of insurance protection.
“As a result, many of those in the B40 group are denied their rights due to technical problems and bureaucracy.
“If the B40 group is not being taken care of properly, what’s the point of extending the scheme to the M40 group? Wouldn’t it create more problems?”
Wee said it made no sense to claim the number of people covered could increase from 40% to 80% of all Malaysians when there was no increase in budget.
He also touched on the revamped scheme’s plan to provide a one-off payment of RM4,000 for M40 patients if they were diagnosed with any of the critical illnesses under the scheme, stating that the sum was not “meaningful” as the median income of those in the M40 category was around RM6,275.
“A more meaningful critical illness coverage would be around three times one’s annual salary,” he said.
“By providing such a cover, the mySalam scheme is heading towards becoming a ‘charity scheme’ with no direction, and not what it was supposed to be — an insurance protection scheme,” added Wee.
Former prime minister Najib Razak also hit out at the scheme today, calling it a “scam” as only RM13.7 million was paid out although RM400 million was paid last year.
“The government pays RM400 million a year to a Singaporean insurance company to run this mySalam scheme but the rakyat only received RM13.7 million in the first year (2019),” Najib said on his Facebook page today.
“Only 9,662 (0.22%) of the 4,300,000 people in the B40 group benefited from the scheme in its first year.”