Malaysia health experts push for revamped social insurance scheme

"If we decide to take this route, it needs to be fair to all"

Malaysia health experts push for revamped social insurance scheme

Insurance News

By Kenneth Araullo

Health experts in Malaysia have expressed support for a proposed social health insurance scheme, seeing it as a more sustainable method for financing healthcare.

The scheme, which was mentioned by Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa as part of the health white paper, would involve mandatory contributions from the government, employers, and working adults.

Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy CEO Azrul Khalib also said that the scheme could help address the issue of underfunding in the healthcare system by sharing the burden of costs.

“It also has the potential to stabilise public subsidisation and allow space for cost-containment, while maintaining access and quality to essential services,” Khalib said in a FMT report.

Khalib cited South Korea and Taiwan as examples where social health insurance systems are funded by public contributions and used to finance healthcare. He suggested that individual contributions to the scheme should be based on a sliding scale, considering factors like age and monthly income.

Dr Azizan Abdul Aziz, president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), also supports the concept of a social health insurance scheme.

“We need to take into consideration all income groups as well as those who are unemployed. If we decide to take this route, it needs to be fair to all,” Aziz said.

She also highlighted the impact of past poor policies and a lack of political will on the current state of healthcare funding. She cited issues such as the maldistribution of healthcare workers, shortages in specialists, and burnout among public healthcare workers, suggesting that an increase in healthcare spending and effective leadership are necessary to address these challenges.

According to the Malaysia National Health Account for 2021, the total healthcare expenditure was about RM78.2 billion, approximately 5.1% of the country's GDP. This expenditure included a 2.1% contribution from the private sector and the remaining 3% from the public sector. In the 2024 budget, around RM41.2 billion has been allocated for the health ministry.

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