KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) leader Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj questioned today the requirement for certain illnesses to reach a certain “severity” before they can be covered under the government’s mySalam health insurance.
Dr Jeyakumar, who was formerly Sungai Siput MP, highlighted the descriptions of the 36 critical illnesses on the mySalam website that appear to follow commercial insurance policies, among which list cancer “of specified severity and does not cover very early cancers” and heart attack “of specified severity”.
“So, it is quite possible to be below 55 years old, suffer a heart attack between Jan 1, 2019 and Dec 31, 2019 but still not be eligible for any MySalam cover as the heart attack was not ‘severe’ enough,” Dr Jeyakumar said in a statement.
“What are the criteria used to judge severity? Were these set by Great Eastern? Did the government have any input regarding these criteria? Was the health ministry consulted on this?” he said, referring to the insurance company that is administering the mySalam scheme.
The PSM central committee member also highlighted bacterial meningitis, encephalitis, and head trauma — all of which are technically covered under mySalam, but those afflicted with these conditions must have “permanent inability to perform activities of daily living”, according to the mySalam website.
“Would the family of a person in a coma because of a head injury sustained in January 2019 be told to come back at least six months from the date of the head injury if he is still severely disabled?
“Then the purpose of giving a cash handout at the time the family is in most need for it is thwarted,” said Dr Jeyakumar.
He also pointed out that although mySalam covers Parkinson’s, majority of patients would be denied coverage because they would typically be in their 70s, above the age groups covered by the government health insurance scheme of 18 to 55.
“Even if there is a person below 55 years who has Parkinson’s with severe disability, he would not be able to apply for he would have been diagnosed several years ago (Parkinson’s takes 10 to 25 years to result in severe disability). And MySalam excludes conditions that were diagnosed before 1/1/2019,” said the former PM.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng previously said that mySalam — a health insurance scheme funded with RM2 billion from Singapore-based Great Eastern Holdings for the bottom 40 per cent (B40) of Malaysians — will only cover those who were diagnosed with a critical illness before January 1 this year.