KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — The mySalam health insurance scheme for the poor will now cover treatment at university and army hospitals, the Finance Ministry announced.
The additional hospitals covered under the scheme are University Malaya Medical Centre; Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre; Hospital Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia; Hospital UiTM Sungai Buloh; and Hospital Angkatan Tentera Tuanku Mizan in Kuala Lumpur.
mySalam also now covers treatment at Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia in Kota Baru, Kelantan; Hospital Angkatan Tentera, Lumut, in Perak; Hospital Angkatan Tentera, Kem Terendak, Melaka; Hospital Tentera Darat, Gemas, in Negri Sembilan; and Hospital Angkatan Tentera Wilayah Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.
“The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is taking an innovative step to increase the number of hospitals covered to enable patients to get further treatment from specialists,” Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a statement.
The mySalam scheme — which provides the bottom 40 per cent (B40) aged 18 to 55 a one-time RM8,000 cash payout if they get diagnosed with any of 36 critical illnesses after January 1 this year, besides RM50 daily hospitalisation income replacement, up to RM700 per annum — previously only covered Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals.
The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy praised the Finance Ministry’s announcement.
“These ten medical facilities, particularly Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Malaya Medical Centre, are vital components in the provision of essential healthcare services to their respective communities.
“They see hundreds of thousands of patients annually. With this development, patients with critical illnesses and their families will no longer be forced to consider relocating treatment to a Ministry of Health hospital in order to benefit from MySalam,” Galen chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said in a statement.
The health think tank expressed concern, however, about mySalam’s exclusion of pre-existing conditions diagnosed before January 1 this year.
“In order to work towards the best possible outcome and truly assist B40 households in dealing with financial hardship due to chronic and non-communicable diseases, coverage must include those who were diagnosed at least two years ago,” said Azrul.
“For example, a 58-year old single mother paralysed by a stroke and diagnosed last year would still have no chance benefiting from mySalam’s income replacement assistance. This must change.”
Azrul urged the Finance Ministry to work with MOH to conduct a review of mySalam after six months and to make the results public. mySalam opened for claims since March 1.
Less than 1 per cent, or only two out of over 1,000 mySalam applicants, have received the RM8,000 lump sum benefit, Deputy Finance Minister Amiruddin Hamzah told Dewan Rakyat last April.
Doctors have questioned the strict critical illness definitions under mySalam that contain various exclusions, mirroring those in commercial insurance — except that the latter pays up to half a million ringgit, whereas the government scheme run by Great Eastern Takaful Berhad only pays RM8,000.
mySalam does not cover “very early cancers”. Neither does it cover conditions like Alzheimer’s, cardiomyopathy (heart disease), coma, and end-stage liver failure if they are related to alcohol or drug abuse.