Poor, Young And Paralysed, But Denied mySalam Over Marital Status

mySalam doesn’t cover singles or the widowed without children.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — A 24-year-old in a vegetative state, who incurs over RM2,000 monthly medical costs on his low-income caregivers, was refused mySalam aid because he is not married.

Pavithiran Rajendran, a Sungai Siput resident who met with a road traffic accident in March that caused a severe head injury, has been paralysed and in a vegetative state for the past six months.

Pavithiran, who lost his mother six years ago, is currently being cared for by his sister Vikneswary Rajendran and brother-in-law Anbuchelvam Muthiah; and is currently recuperating at home in Perak.

Despite being a recipient for Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia cash aid for the bottom 40 per cent of income earners (B40) under the singles category twice in 2018 and 2019, refashioned as Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) under Pakatan Harapan, the system failed to show Pavithiran as a recipient for BSH, according to his family.

Pavithiran was found to be not eligible for mySalam, a national health protection scheme run by insurance company Great Eastern Takaful Bhd under the Ministry of Finance’s (MOF) purview, on the basis that he is unmarried.

According to the mySalam website, recipients of BSH 2019 aged between 18 and 55 years, and their spouses, are eligible for free takaful health protection under the scheme that provides an RM8,000 lump sum cash benefit upon diagnosis with any of 36 critical illnesses after January 1 this year. The website, however, states that BSH recipients who have never been married, as well as the widowed without children, are not covered.

Pavithiran was diagnosed with critical head injury that caused limb paralysis, one of the conditions covered by mySalam. The scheme also covers major head trauma that results in permanent inability to perform daily activities.

Pavithiran’s brother-in-law, a temporary car wash worker, is struggling to make ends meet to shoulder Pavithiran’s medical costs, which includes medications, transportation to Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh, and ambulance costs among others.

“I spend up to RM2,000 to RM2,500 a month for Pavithiran’s medical costs alone. My wife and I are also caring for my old father-in-law. We get by each month with my salary and via the charity of family and friends,” Anbuchelvam told CodeBlue.

“Getting mySalam aid for Pavithiran will be a big help for us, as we will be able to settle some part of his medical costs.”

The policy of excluding single people from the scheme seems like discrimination to them.

Pavithiran Rajendran is paralysed and in a vegetative state after suffering a severe head injury from a road traffic accident in March. Picture courtesy of his family.

However, speaking to CodeBlue, Zakiah Hanum Mohd Kassim, the head of corporate communications for MOF, refuted the claim that it was a sort of discrimination, but refused to comment further on this matter.

CodeBlue also attempted to speak to mySalam chairman Johan Mahmood Merican, but to no avail at the time of writing.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) chairman Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj has been handling Pavithiran’s application for mySalam aid.

He told CodeBlue that appealing is impossible as the rules clearly state that the scheme is only for married people.

“The MOF started the whole thing without a proper actuarial study or statistics. MOF went ahead and initiated the aid without involving the NGOs, Malaysian Medical Association or even the Ministry of Health,” Dr Jeyakumar claimed.

Dr Jeyakumar believes that the policy needs to change to ensure mySalam reaches as many people as possible.

“A lot of people are left out due to this. There is a need for change in the policy-level to allow people like Pavithiran to get the aid he deserves.”

He suggested a proper review by MOF, and a comprehensive discussion with stakeholders.

“They have to really look into it and review the whole thing. MOF and Great Eastern must discuss on terms and open it up to benefit more people. It is also necessary to have a meeting with stakeholders and discuss on what can be done to make this scheme a more successful initiative,” he opined.

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