Kuala Lumpur – The recent medical fee schedule for foreigners and refugees implemented by the Ministry of Health (MOH) did not augur well with several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as they felt it is unjust and inhumane to foreigners while some Malaysians interviewed felt it is timely.
The Coalition against Health Care Privatisation (GMPPK) chairman Dr Subramaniam Pillay said that according to the circular released by MOH’s deputy secretary general Dr Chen Chaw Min on Dec 29, the deposit amount foreigners need to pay for hospitalisation for medical case was RM600, RM900 and RM2,100 for third, second and first/ executive classes.
For surgery, he added, it was RM1,200, RM1,500 and RM3,300 for third, second and first/executive classes while for obstetrics and gynaecology it was RM1,200, RM,1,500 and RM2,100 for third, second and first/executive classes.
“This is a big sum of money for some foreign workers and refugees. In fact, there have instances where hospital staff have denied admission to foreigners who could not pay the deposit for admission,” he said during a press conference at the Party Socialist Malaysia headquarters today morning.
Taking into account that Malaysia has just assumed the Chair of Asean and was recently nominated to serve in the United Nations Security Council as one of the non-permanent members, Subramaniam said such an unfair fee schedule would greatly tarnish Malaysia’s image.
Subramaniam said the new fee policy is detrimental to the health of ordinary Malaysians too as the high costs of deposits will actually deter them from seeking medical attention.
“They will try to self-medicate themselves and this delay in diagnosis and proper treatment will lead to transmission of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, typhoid, dengue and other infectious illnesses,” he said.
Subramaniam said he and 15 other NGOs that are critical of the new fee schedule would like to know if MOH did actually approve this new fee policy and if it was discussed with the Foreign Affairs Ministry or the Cabinet.
“A first step would be to call for an immediate moratorium on the new fee structure for foreigners and open the issue for discussion with public health experts and other competent parties,” he said.
Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj said the NGOs will also be seeking a meeting with MOH to highlight the disadvantages of this fee structure.
Meanwhile several Malaysians interviewed said they felt that it was timely as legal foreign workers were covered under insurance for medical treatment and hospitalisation.
A company executive K. L. Sim, 46, said his foreign employees were covered by medical insurance and he sees no reason why the new fee schedule is an issue.
“The ones who will face the problem are the illegal immigrant workers and refugees maybe,” he said, adding with the healthcare cost rising every year, Malaysians must be happy that the government is heavily subsidising their medical bill at government hospitals.
An administrative clerk Norhayati Ismail, 30, is of the view that the government should do away with subsidising foreigners as “when we go to foreign land, we have to foot our own medical bill. That government or ministry does not come to our aid or sympathise with us when we say we got no money.”
Loganathan R., a lorry driver, 52 said: “I think its fair the foreigners are charged. Why should we subsidise medical cost for them too. We can be sympathetic by giving them emergency care free of charge or help out those who really cannot afford. But its ridiculous otherwise.”
He said it was about time the government seriously look into deporting all the illegal immigrants or else they will pose a big financial burden for the nation. – The Sun