KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) today accused Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng of being inconsistent about health care for the poor as it highlighted Penang’s growing health tourism under his previous tenure as chief minister.
PSM research coordinator Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj called out Lim for saying at a press conference Tuesday that the government’s mySalam health insurance scheme for the bottom 40 per cent (B40) should not be questioned because the poor should not be written off.
“What perplexes the PSM is this – if the Honourable Minister is so concerned about the plight of the sick among the B40, why has he been pushing so hard for the expansion of health tourism?” Dr Jeyakumar said in a statement.
The former Sungai Siput MP highlighted the Penang state government’s sale of 6.4 acres of land to Island Hospital Sdn Bhd in 2017 to build an RM2 billion “Island Medical City” project in five years.
Free Malaysia Today had reported then Chief Minister Lim as saying that this would be the biggest private hospital in Malaysia.
“Does he not see that expansion of existing private hospitals undermines the government health sector by siphoning off even more specialist doctors from government hospitals?
“Does he not know that only 10 per cent of the specialists with more than 10 years of experience post-specialisation are currently still in government service? Ninety per cent of these experienced doctors are already in the private sector,” Dr Jeyakumar said today.
The government’s mySalam scheme, which is funded with RM2 billion from Singapore-based Great Eastern Holdings, seeks to cover 3.69 million B40 individuals aged between 18 and 55. The health insurance plan provides an RM8,000 lump sum payout upon diagnosis of one of 36 critical illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.
mySalam also provides income replacement payment of RM50 daily for those who get treatment at public hospitals for a maximum of 14 days or RM700 annually.
However, those with pre-existing conditions are excluded as mySalam only covers those who were diagnosed with a critical illness from January 1 this year.