The One Ringgit Health Care System — Dr John Teo

The one ringgit health care system has to go.

Lately there are stories in the media about how cheap is the Malaysian health care system with the public paying only RM 1 for a vist to the Government health clinic and RM 5 for a specialist visit.

The medical services provided including drugs and medications which can range from tens of ringgit to even a few hundred ringgit on many occasions.

In addition, original pricey drugs are also be given. At times this could be very costly especially if the treatment is prolonged.

On the same vein, many have been to government hospitals for high standard intensive care that can amount to even hundreds of thousands of ringgit yet pay barely a RM 100, a pittance.

Health care is a basic human right and every government is obliged to provide accessible care to all its citizens.

However, this doesn’t mean that citizens have no obligation to conserve health care resources or maintain a healthy life style.

It doesn’t mean that citizens can then chain-smoke themselves to chronic lung diseases or drink until they have liver failure and use up costly healthcare resources that others also have a right to.

The incidence of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension or diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate every year.

You see many pregnant women who already undergo regular antenatal follow up in the private sector, some even with specialists, yet also insist on going for additional follow up in government health clinics.

They use up the valuable & thinly spread time of attending doctors and take up the cost of investigations and medication. These could have instead been allocated to others more in need of those government resources and do not have the same opportunity for follow up treatment in the private sector.

There are also so many patients who are given good expensive drugs at government clinics yet proceed to a private clinic for a 2nd opinion. At times they also take more medication from those private clinics.

There are 3 categories of citizens: the T20 who can afford private care either out of pocket or through insurance schemes; the M40 who may be occasionally paying out of pockets and for more expensive treatment will seek government care; and the B40 who mainly use government health care resources.

There is no free health care.

Every time someone pays RM 1 and receives hundreds of ringgit worth of health care at government clinics or pays RM 30 ringgit and receives thousands of ringgit worth of medical treatment in government hospitals, someone else is paying for it. Someone could also be deprived of that care.

In short, yes health care is a basic human right and every citizen have a right to access reasonable cost effective care BUT to not conserve health care resources, duplicate the use of health care resources, waste and use them with the idea that the sky is the limit or not taking responsibility of one’s own healthcare, would be downright irresponsible and an absolute sin.

For that, the RM 1 health care system has to go.

Citizens need to take charge of their own health care and resources should only be given to those who really need it. For those who can afford it, they need to pay a bit more for their health care and the government will then be able to provide better care to all.

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