KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 — DAP lawmaker Tony Pua today defended mySalam’s RM13.7 million payout last year that only comprised 3.4 per cent of the health protection scheme’s RM400 million annual allocation.
The Damansara MP, who is also political secretary to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, said like any new initiatives, it takes time to raise public awareness about making mySalam claims when diagnosed with a critical illness or hospitalised for any condition.
“The RM13.7 million claims payout for the year 2019, as announced transparently, does not mean that the remaining funds will be misappropriated like under the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration,” Pua said in a statement.
“Instead, it is allocated for mySalam recipients in the years to come.”
Pua told MCA president Wee Ka Siong, who has been critical of the scheme by Singapore-based insurance company Great Eastern Holdings, that mySalam would not benefit any party, except for Malaysian citizens.
“All premiums paid by the government, if not utilised to pay for claims by beneficiaries, will be refunded to the mySalam trust fund.”
Great Eastern gave the Malaysian government RM2 billion for mySalam — a scheme that pays the bottom 40 per cent (B40) or middle class RM8,000 and RM4,000 lump sum cash respectively when diagnosed with a critical illness — in exchange for not divesting 30 per cent of their shareholdings to local investors under Bank Negara rules. B40 Malaysians who were diagnosed with a critical illness before January 1, 2019, are excluded from coverage.
The Malaysian government in turn pays Great Eastern the insurance premiums of mySalam beneficiaries, about RM400 million annually for five years.
However, the Finance Ministry revealed last week that mySalam only paid out about RM14 million to some 10,000 low-income Malaysians in 2019. Besides the RM8,000 one-time cash benefit, this sum also included beneficiaries who received the daily RM50 hospitalisation allowance benefit that is capped at 14 days’ maximum yearly.
Pua stressed that the Health Ministry has twice issued circulars to government hospitals — last August 14 and January 13 this year — to exempt mySalam applicants from medical report charges, amid previous claims that they were getting charged RM40 per medical report.
“This clearly proves the sincerity of the PH (Pakatan Harapan) government in lightening the burden of patients as they won’t have to face extra charges.”
The DAP MP also pointed out that the previous BN government had never implemented such an insurance scheme to help the needy with critical illnesses or who lost income from hospitalisation.
Wee said in an immediate response that he has received complaints from his constituents in Ayer Hitam, Johor, about their difficulty in making claims from mySalam, having to go back and forth the hospital and paying RM40 for a medical report.
“I myself helped get funding for them; if it’s too late, maybe they’d be hit with worse,” the Ayer Hitam MP said.
He also questioned why mySalam paid out only some 3 per cent of the premiums it received last year.
“What’s the point of keeping such a huge sum, while the people are complaining about red tape in getting aid? Doesn’t Tony understand what ‘red tape’ is?”