The move to expand the MySalam scheme is encouraging but there are still gaps in the coverage, says a research organisation.
Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy said although it welcomes the expansion of the scheme, there are many issues that must be looked into.
“These 10 medical facilities, particularly Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Malaya Medical Centre, are vital components in the provision of essential healthcare services to their respective communities.
“They see hundreds of thousands of patients annually. With this development, patients with critical illnesses and their families will no longer be forced to consider relocating treatment to a Health Ministry hospital in order to benefit from MySalam,” said Galen Centre chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib in a statement today.
Earlier today, the Finance Ministry announced that MySalam, the free national health protection scheme for the low-income or B40 group who undergo medical treatment at government hospitals, has been widened to include five university and five military hospitals.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said that this is to enable patients to receive further treatment from specialist doctors.
Azrul said there are more issues with the coverage of the scheme, which need to be addressed so that it can be truly responsive to the needs of the B40 group, such as 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 who were diagnosed at least two years ago,” he said.
The programme, he added, must be based on the principle of inclusion and seek to cover as many people in the B40 group as it can.
“It (MySalam) still seems to require that you must be of the right age, have the right kind of illness, and be at the right time of diagnosis.
“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,” Azrul said.
The government’s move today proves that it is open to improving the programme, he said, adding that the Finance Ministry should work together with the Health Ministry to conduct a review of the scheme after six months and share those results with the public.