Malaysia

1 Care 10pc medical levy just a proposal, says Tiong Lai

By Yow Hong Chieh
February 08, 2012

Liow says it is too early to condemn the proposed 1 Care system. — File picLiow says it is too early to condemn the proposed 1 Care system. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 — A reported proposal for all employees and businesses to pay 10 per cent of their monthly incomes to a 1 Care insurance fund for healthcare costs has yet to be finalised, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has said.

The proposal has raised the ire of private medical practitioners and public after details of the social health insurance were posted online several weeks ago. The Health Ministry has also had briefings with pharmacists on the plan that seeks to overhaul the existing healthcare system.

“Nothing is final, even the 10 per cent salary (mandatory contribution) is a proposal... It hasn’t come to the policy stage yet,” the health minister told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

Liow also reiterated that the healthcare system revamp was still in its “infancy”, and stressed that his ministry would consult as many stakeholders as possible before formulating the scheme.

“There’s no point doing things in a hurry. We’d like to engage the public so they may give feedback and even propose better models,” he said.

He added that he would hold a briefing soon to dispel rumours surrounding 1 Care.

The new scheme has come under fire from healthcare practitioners and the public, who claim that individuals and businesses will be forced to hand over 10 per cent of their earnings each month to a government-run insurance fund.

The Malaysian Insider reported at the weekend that the 1 Care system is close to completion, despite assurances from Health Ministry officials that it was “too early” for critics to sound warning bells about the scheme.

The Health Ministry told the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) at a seminar on January 15 it was finalising 1 Care proposals and that a Pharmacy Act would be tabled at the next Parliament sitting to facilitate the transition to the new insurance scheme.

According to the minutes of the seminar, the ministry’s health policy and planning deputy director, Dr Nordin Saleh, told MPS then: “The 1 Care transformation proposals are now in the final stages.”

The Malaysian Insider understands that 1 Care, mooted under the 10th Malaysia Plan, is modelled entirely after the UK’s publicly-funded National Healthcare Service (NHS).

It is believed that the five-phase scheme has already entered its third phase, and the full initiative, post-engagement with doctors and pharmacists nationwide, is due to be presented to the Cabinet by March.

The scheme is expected to replace the current two-tier healthcare system with one that integrates both private and government hospitals, in the hopes of ensuring more equitable healthcare for Malaysians of all classes.

Under the present system, patients can choose to seek treatment at either private clinics or hospitals and pay out of their own pockets or opt for government clinics or hospitals instead, where they will pay a nominal fee for basic, federally subsidised healthcare.

The Health Ministry has assured critics that the 1 Care scheme will not burden the public with undue costs, adding that talks on the financial arrangements that will be made available and their impact on the government and taxpayers were ongoing.

“Any assumption or conjecture on the mode of financial impact for the individual taxpayer is very premature at this stage, as discussions are being held at the moment to ensure a positive and workable model,” ministry director-general Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said.