Health White Paper: Doctor Suggests Increasing Public Healthcare Fees From RM1 To RM5

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has proposed that patients pay according to their income levels.

Cover image via Aswadi Alias/New Straits Times & Bernama

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The Health White Paper, a policy document prepared by the Ministry of Health (MOH) outlining the challenges faced by the country's health system, was released in Parliament on Tuesday, 13 June

The 57-page paper indicated the need to reform the healthcare system to ensure the continuous health of all Malaysians.

It also briefly mentioned solutions to the issues, among them was to review the current public healthcare fee structure to address healthcare financing in the country.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Mohd Fadli Hamzah/New Straits Times

The MOH has proposed for patients to pay for services at government facilities according to their income levels

"The current structure which imposes the same fees for all has led to huge disparity between what patients need to pay and the costs to provide the services. This is especially if compared to what some can afford, particularly among high income households.

"Thus, to improve the sustainability of public healthcare services, the fee structure at government facilities will be reviewed to match one's financial capability.

"However, the safety net for low income households will still be maintained," it said, as quoted by Malaysiakini.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Bernama

Meanwhile, the paper has also proposed a "progressive contribution scheme" to diversify funding for public healthcare services

The paper said the dependency on a single source — the government — for funding is unsustainable against the rising healthcare needs of the ever-changing Malaysian demographics.

"Thus, a form of social compact will be proposed for healthcare investments to become a joint responsibility," the document said.

The paper, therefore, said healthcare funding from various sources, including the government, individuals, and corporations under public administration, needed to be increased to 5% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

The document, however, did not detail the proposed mechanism.

Commenting on the paper, public health medicine specialist Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar has suggested for fees at public health facilities be increased to RM5

He said the amount is still reasonable.

Currently, Malaysian citizens who seek treatment at government hospitals and clinics only have to pay RM1 for outpatient care.

"We need to develop a system for certain groups like the B40 and M40. We can also have fees from social and insurance schemes for the rest of the people.

"It is time we harmonise the current dichotomy of health delivery between public and private," he told The Star after the reveal of the paper on Tuesday.

"The government has to look for new ways to finance our health system and to allocate more than the current annual health budget – maybe double the amount annually," he added.

Read the full Health White Paper here.

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