KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — A woman and her sick husband, who were forced to sleep outside Selayang Hospital and the TBS bus terminal here because they can’t afford lodging, complained about complex and expensive mySalam application procedures.
Zuzahana told Ayer Hitam MP Wee Ka Siong in a video the latter posted on Facebook that it cost she and her husband Hairul Anuar Omar — who suffers from liver cirrhosis, kidney problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol — at least RM300 to travel by bus to and fro between Ayer Hitam, Johor, and Selayang Hospital, Selangor, that has specialists. And they sleep overnight in the city because the patient can only get treatment the next day.
Zuzahana, who is asking the MCA president to help with her mySalam application after two previous rejected attempts, said getting a medical report from the Ministry of Health (MOH) hospital for the mySalam government health protection scheme cost her RM40 and required two weeks’ waiting time, while getting a discharge note from the hospital took one week.
“We got nothing; we’re frustrated,” she told Wee at his service centre in Yong Peng, Johor, last Saturday.
“We sleep on the sidewalk outside the hospital. We don’t have a car, we take the bus. Next day only we can get treatment. They don’t provide any ‘Anjung Kasih’ for us,” she added, referring to a temporary drop-in centre for the needy.
Zuzahana also complained that mySalam — a Finance Ministry programme funded by insurance company Great Eastern to provide the bottom 40 per cent (B40) aged 18 to 55 RM8,000 cash for diagnosis of a critical illness and RM50 daily hospitalisation income replacement for 14 days maximum for any disease — required separate medical reports for each condition. Her husband has five illnesses.
“They don’t give a single report. So if we come today for this, they’ll only give us for this. Then we have to wait again, take blood again. That is what causes rejections because we don’t understand how it works.”
Zuzahana, who works to support her jobless husband, said the Social Welfare Department (JKM) previously helped pay for her husband’s liver medicines, but has now stopped the payments because he no longer qualified for them.
“If we don’t pay for the medicines, we don’t get them,” she said.
Since going to and fro Kuala Lumpur and Ayer Hitam costs them at least RM300, Zuzahana said she even sometimes skips meals to let her husband eat.
Lalitha Selvakumar, who was hospitalised for 21 days for autoimmune disease SLE at MOH’s Sultanah Fatimah Muar Specialist Hospital, said at Wee’s service centre that she received RM200 under mySalam, but had to pay RM40 for each individual medical report per illness.
“That form records a lot of illnesses. It’s one form for one category, so if there are three diseases, you have to pay RM40, RM40, RM40, so it’s RM120 total,” she said.
Lalitha said she tried uploading her mySalam application three times, but they were all rejected except for one.
“I went to the nearby Pakatan office. They asked me to upload myself. I uploaded myself, but they were all rejected. Then I came to MCA for help.”
She also complained about the difficulty in getting a discharge note, saying she could only get the document after visiting the hospital three times.
Wee said he saw four patients last Saturday applying for mySalam, one of whom has not received aid despite applying since January 1 this year. Two of the four have received aid, though not the RM8,000 lump sum benefit, while another two are still being processed.
None of the medical conditions cited by Hairul and Lalitha, however, are covered under mySalam’s list of 36 critical illnesses, though the RM50 daily hospitalisation benefit is available for any disease.
“How can the general public do this? Download each document, and their applications are rejected if there are errors, download forms, see the doctor, wait three weeks for a report, pay RM40, and that one also not sure if can get, upload the documents again,” said Wee.
“Today, coincidentally, there are Malays, Chinese and Indians here. All of them are suffering. Don’t say that they’re good with computers. Not all of them can do it. The process is so difficult.”
The mySalam application process is currently only online, even though the programme targets low-income Malaysians.
Wee told his constituents that he would give each patient RM200 while he helps them with their mySalam applications.
He told CodeBlue that mySalam has paid out about RM3 million as of September 30, even though the government is paying Great Eastern RM400 million in annual insurance premiums for five years. The Singapore-based insurance company is contributing RM2 billion to the mySalam fund in that period.