“Healthcare is not a business to derive profits…”
10:46AM Feb 3, 2012 Malaysiakini.com
Healthcare is not a business to derive profits, medical practitioners and a non-governmental group have warned, and they want the government to review its proposed 1Care for 1Malaysia scheme.
The Citizens’ Healthcare Coalition (CHC), together with the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations, Malaysia (FPMPAM), denounced the health ministry’s initiative to implement this national insurance-based system to fund healthcare.
“1Care does not address existing problems and issues and it will be detrimental to the well-being of consumers.
“In this scheme of things – the outsourcing of services – they want to outsource healthcare as well,” CHC spokesperson Dr T Jayabalan (left) said at a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“They call it a social insurance scheme but there is nothing ‘social’ about it. If it concerns the people, why weren’t consumer groups invited for discussions on the matter?” Jayabalan asked.
In taking steps for the plan to be scrapped, CHC and FPMPAM are moving fast to inform their members about the 1Care scheme and for them to educate their patients, as well as conduct forums and dialogues in the various states of the country.
“For every attempt they have made, the rakyat and the relevant groups, such as consumer associations, have put the brakes… but this time, things are being done stealthily,” said Jayabalan, a veteran public health consultant.
Speculation is rife that initiatives are being taken to table a bill at the March sitting of parliament, to moot a national healthcare financing authority (NHFA) in the hope of “ensuring healthcare is accessible to all Malaysians” across all socio-economic status.
CHC has generated an online campaign on Facebook and Twitter, asking Malaysians to reject 1Care, which will not only be expensive as every employed individual will have to contribute as much as 10 percent of his or her monthly income to the NHFA for basic healthcare, but will also be restrictive in the options offered to those requiring healthcare.
However, this is not the view of the government, which first proposed such a scheme under the Fourth Malaysia Plan (1981-1985), before reviving it as 1Care a couple of years ago.
According to a concept paper available on the CHC Facebook page, 1Care was mooted under the 10th Malaysia Plan as the health ministry’s 2011-2015 strategic plan, similar to Britain’s National Healthcare Service (NHS).
Healthcare is welfare
Jayabalan said the government has already began rolling out 1Care with a plan to corporatise the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) when parliament sits in March.
He said speculation was rife about the tabling of a Pharmacy Bill, “and this is where the separation starts… the tactic is to divide the people… it is the best way to push things through”.
It is understood that the four-phase scheme has already been put into place, with the full scheme due to be presented to the cabinet by March, after the authorities engage with doctors and pharmacists nationwide.
“It’s just like every other past restructuring exercise, such as the corporatisation of the National Heart Institute (IJN) a couple of years ago. They promised efficiency, so there is no waiting time in IJN now? Those who can’t pay upfront have to wait for years,” Jayabalan said.
“If the government is thinking about welfare – what’s welfare? It is not doling out from your pocket. Welfare is social in nature and it is the duty of the government to provide this service.”
FPMPAM president Dr Steven Chow (right) said instead of revamping the entire healthcare structure, the government should just address the weaknesses, such as improving better access to healthcare.
Chow said the government should emulate the example of Hong Kong, which encouraged public interaction when it proposed setting up a voluntary medical insurance scheme.
“This country is headed for disaster if it abandons the current system for 1Care,” Jayabalan added.