The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy welcomes today’s announcement by the finance ministry that patients undergoing treatment at hospitals operating under the education and defence ministries would now be covered under the MySalam programme.
However, we caution that there are still gaps in coverage needing attention.
These 10 medical facilities, particularly Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM) and University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), are vital components in the provision of essential healthcare services to their respective communities.
They see hundreds of thousands of patients annually.
With this new development, patients with critical illnesses and their families, will no longer be forced to consider relocating treatment to a different hospital in order to benefit from MySalam.
There are still gaps in coverage for the B40 low-income group which need to be addressed in order for this programme to be truly responsive to the needs of this group.
We continue to be concerned by the exclusion of pre-existing conditions diagnosed before Jan 1, 2019.
In order to work towards the best possible outcome and truly assist B40 households in dealing with financial hardship due to chronic and non-communicable diseases, coverage must include those which were diagnosed at least two years ago.
The B40 insurance programme must be based on the principle of inclusion rather than exclusion.
It should seek to include the bulk of people in the B40 group needing assistance now.
It still seems to require that you be of the right age, have the right kind of illness, and be at the right time of diagnosis.
For example, a 58-year-old single mother paralysed by a stroke and diagnosed last year would still have no chance benefitting from mySalam’s income replacement assistance. This must change.
Changing the approach and coverage of beneficiaries would increase understanding and appreciation of the need for people to invest in health insurance and in preventive health measures.
Today’s news report proves that the government is open to refining and improving this programme.
Therefor,e we encourage the finance ministry, working together with the health ministry, to conduct a review of mySalam after six months and share these results with the public.
Azrul Mohd Khalib is founder and CEO of Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.