KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 6 — The Social Security Organisation (Socso) today withdrew a controversial directive that imposed conditions on subsidising dialysis, admitting that it would have affected a small number of its contributors with kidney failure.
The fund said the Socso board has considered the welfare of workers, and acting on advice by Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran, has withdrawn the directive with immediate effect.
“This move will allow all eligible Socso’s insured persons, including Invalidity Grant recipients, to receive the dialysis aid as before,” the social security fund said in a statement today.
Socso came under fire from opposition leaders and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) over new criteria for fully subsidising dialysis treatments, including having to pay at least 24 months’ worth of monthly contributions to Socso within 40 consecutive months before their invalidity notice is received.
Another condition required that monthly deductions comprise at least one-third of an insured individual’s first deduction upon entering the scheme until their invalidity notice is received. These came into effect from January 10 this year.
Socso today said the revision to the qualifying criteria for its dialysis aid was in line with the principle of providence of benefits through a social insurance fund, and the future sustainability of the social security fund.
It also admitted that although a large number of Socso contributors would have continued to receive dialysis aid with the new conditions attached, a small number would have been affected as they did not meet the qualifying criteria.
“This will certainly be a burden to patients with chronic kidney disease, especially when financing assistance for dialysis treatment is currently limited,” Socso agreed.
Dialysis treatment is provided free-of-charge at any Socso dialysis panel centres, government hospitals, private dialysis centres, or facilities run by non-government organisations (NGOs), since 1999.
The recent circular by Socso — which mainly protects employees against occupational injuries and invalidity — had justified imposing new eligibility conditions for subsidised dialysis treatment because of a need to improve sustainability, and bridge a gap between its assets and liabilities.
Among others, MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon had said that the new conditions would limit access or completely deny “scores” of disadvantaged contributors and beneficiaries from receiving free dialysis treatment, most of whom are among the hardcore poor.
Calls had also been made for Socso to release its December 5, 2019 memorandum titled “Proposed Action Plans to Bridge the Gap Between SOCSO’s Assets and Liability and Improve Fund’s Sustainability” that justified the move, while MCA threatened a lawsuit if the circular was not rescinded.
In an earlier statement, Socso said it could not be the only group to provide dialysis as treatment costs are estimated to continue to escalate, and proposed that a solution of the health financing issue be looked at by all other organisations.