KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — Malaysians across Sabah, Kelantan, Kedah, Melaka, Perak, and Negri Sembilan said they were unaware about mySalam, a government health insurance scheme for the poor.
Bernama reported that its checks in Kota Kinabalu, Kota Baru, Alor Star, Melaka, Lumut, and Seremban found that some had never heard about the Finance Ministry’s critical illness insurance scheme for the bottom 40 per cent (B40), while others had read about it but did not know about its benefits or how to apply for it.
“What is mySalam? I have not heard of it?” Azahari Azhar, a cendol seller at Jalan Ayer Keroh Lama in Melaka, was quoted saying.
Bernama also reported that no information kiosks on mySalam were found in Hospital Tuanku Ja’afar Seremban, while some people in Kota Kinabalu and Kota Baru urged the government to open up information counters about the scheme at hospitals and clinics in Sabah and Kedah.
“I’ve heard about the scheme but I don’t know the detailed information about the benefits, who’s eligible for them and how to apply for it,” trader Mohd Rosdi Awang from Kota Baru told Bernama.
“Perhaps in the future, information about the scheme can be included in the Friday sermon delivered at mosques, especially in rural areas,” he added.
Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) recipients, who qualify for mySalam coverage if they are aged 18 to 55 and get diagnosed with one of 36 critical illnesses from January 1 this year, said they hoped the insurance scheme could cover their children who contract certain diseases or who need hospitalisation.
mySalam provides recipients a one-time RM8,000 cash payout for diagnosis of a critical illness, as well as RM50 daily hospitalisation income replacement, up to RM700 per annum, for treatment at Ministry of Health (MOH), university, and army hospitals. Those with pre-existing conditions that were diagnosed before January 1, 2019, are not eligible for the RM8,000 lump sum benefit.
Siti Fazdilah Tom Mansor from Alor Star told Bernama that her daughter had a problem with her tonsils and often had to be hospitalised for several days for recurrent fevers.
“When she needs to be hospitalised, I have to take leave from work. My husband is self-employed, hence he could not skip work as it will affect the family income,” she told Bernama when asked about mySalam.
mySalam does not cover tonsils problems.
Housewife Nur Alia Hamid from Alor Star told Bernama that she hoped her seven-year-old daughter, suspected of having a heart problem and is often hospitalised for frequent fevers, could get assistance, even though mySalam does not cover children.
“My husband is only a shop assistant. Hence when our daughter needs to be hospitalised, we really felt the burden, so we are really looking forward to the mySalam benefit.”
Security guard Khairul Mohd Hizam from Melaka was quoted saying: “This is the first time I am hearing of it. If I had known about it, I would definitely sign up for the scheme because I just have enough to cover my monthly expenses.”
BSH recipient Nazrul Ishak from Shah Alam, Selangor, did not appear to have correct information about mySalam as he expressed hopes for the scheme to cover all government hospitals nationwide, something which the scheme already does.
“We know not all hospitals accept this scheme. If we limit it to one hospital, this will cause overcrowding of chronic illness patients at the hospital, so this will be very difficult for us,” he said.
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.
According to mySalam’s website, a person who wants to file a critical illness claim must log on, download a “doctor’s statement” form, get their doctor to fill it up, and then upload it. The website does not specify how people can file a claim offline or if the claims documents are available in public hospitals.