Malaysia

1 Care to bridge public-private healthcare divide, says Health D-G

By Mohd Farhan Darwis
February 09, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — The Health Ministry’s controversial 1 Care proposal will give Malaysians equal access to government and private healthcare, its director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman has said.

But he did not give any details and also did not comment on the fact that most Malaysians already have access to private healthcare under the existing dual-track healthcare system.

Dr Hasan (picture) only said that the ministry has two years to complete the blueprint and that at present, it was still in talks with 11 technical working groups, stressing that the plan was not finalised.

Under the existing public-private system, Malaysians can choose to see a doctor in government-owned medical facilities or seek treatment in a private clinic or hospital.

Most companies already pay for their employees, and their immediate families, to receive treatment at private medical centres.

The government also pays for private medical care in some cases for civil servants.

But Dr Hasan told state-owned TV channel RTM1 in an interview on its show “Dialog” aired last night: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, without counting on whether it is government or private service, the public could afford easy access to healthcare, a simplified access with a high responsive rate.”

He was responding to criticism over the ministry’s 1 Care scheme, which has triggered a furore from the private medical service and alarmed the public after details of the proposed healthcare system were published online in the past few weeks.

Both medical practitioners and the public are growing increasingly unhappy and allege that individuals and businesses will be forced to pay 10 per cent of their income to the proposed government healthcare insurance on a monthly basis, among other things.

According to the proposal too, each person will be assigned to one doctor in a certain area and will not be allowed to choose another. Individuals will also be limited on the number of medical visits a month.

The health director-general said the country currently has 600 private clinics and 813 government clinics, with 60 per cent of patients choosing to seek treatment at government clinics.

For hospitals, there are now 231 private facilities and a total of 141 government hospitals available, he said.

Yesterday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the proposal for business groups to be charged a 10 per cent levy of their income for an insurance fund under the 1 Care scheme would be reviewed.

The ministry had also held a briefing with pharmacists regarding the healthcare plan, which is said to be an improvement on the existing system.