KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — ProtectHealth Corporation (ProtectHealth) was initially established to implement voluntary health insurance with funds from the Finance Ministry, the company’s CEO said.
Ab Latiff Abu Bakar also said the appointment of directors of ProtectHealth, a government-owned company under the Ministry of Health (MOH), followed government guidelines, in response to criticism that the inclusion of MOH secretary-general Dr Chen Chaw Min and director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on the board posed a conflict of interest.
“The company was established to implement voluntary health insurance (VHI) as announced in May 2017,” ProtectHealth CEO Ab Latiff told CodeBlue.
“The government had provided the share capital to start-up the company and VHI as announced during Budget 2018,” he added, referring to share capital from the Finance Ministry.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad has said previously that the current health care system was unsustainable, but did not say if Malaysia should move to social health insurance. The previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration once mooted a voluntary health insurance scheme.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government currently has an insurance-like scheme to give RM8,000 to the bottom 40 per cent (B40) when they get diagnosed with a critical illness, but mySalam is run by the Finance Ministry, not MOH.
Ab Latiff noted that with the change of government in the 2018 general election, ProtectHealth’s role was expanded to develop and administer the Peka B40 health screening scheme for the B40.
“Subsequently, the above-mentioned share capital was used to build the systems for Peka B40,” added Ab Latiff on the change of ProtectHealth’s role.
Previously, former Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Milton Lum questioned how can the regulator regulate itself when the directors of ProtectHealth are top MOH officials Dr Chen and Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, as stated on ProtectHealth’s Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) registration documents.
Dr Lum had also asked about the source of ProtectHealth’s funds, amid claims that the public health sector was underfunded.
He noted that according to SSM documents, ProtectHealth was incorporated on December 19, 2016, as a private company limited by shares with an initial share capital of RM2. The share capital was RM1 million as at December 31, 2017, before it increased to RM26,000,002 on March 21, 2018, shortly before the May 9 general election won by PH.
Currently, Peka B40 is still in its infant phase with emphasis on non-communicable diseases (NCDs). If successful, the government promises to implement the programme to everyone in the B40 group, estimated to be over seven million people.