Work On Health Care Reforms Now — MMA

A reform of the health care system is needed immediately before more fall along the wayside.

Presently raging on social media is the issue of astronomical hospital bills that one may incur for Category Five Covid-19 infection, when managed at a private hospital.

Amounts quoted have been in the range of a few hundred thousand ringgit. Not having access to the actual cost incurred by the hospital and not having sighted the breakdown of the total hospital bill, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) is not in a position to say if the bill is justified or not.

It does, however, bring to light the high cost of medical care which has been increasing, and will definitely continue to increase, maybe exponentially so.

Some users of public health care services may not realise it. but the cost is high in the public sector too. We don’t see this cost, as public health care is heavily subsidised by the government.

As for the cost of private health care, the few at the top of the income bracket may look at a few hundred thousand ringgit as small change which will hardly leave a dent in their bank accounts, but for the majority who are paying out of their own pocket or relying on a meagre health insurance policy, a catastrophic health event will be a major blow to them, with many hardly surviving the economic disaster, let alone recovering from the illness and being too sick to raise the money for the bill.

We are all too familiar now with Covid-19, as well as other income-draining diseases like renal failure and cancer, to name a few. There are also other rare and novel diseases which need specialised medication on a long term basis. which will also break the bank due to the high prolonged cost.

These may not be covered by medical insurance schemes, unless a person is fortunate enough to have the means to purchase a high cost insurance scheme with almost unlimited benefits which is out of the reach of most.

To get into the public health care system for such treatments is possible, and the Ministry of Health (MOH) does provide for it, though understandably, there is a long waiting list, and some may not survive the wait.

We need to wake up to the reality that a reform of our health care system is needed immediately. We need to fix it now before more fall along the wayside on the journey to obtain much needed health care.

The current health minister has also been talking about the need for health care reforms, and we believe that if given the right support, initiation of reforms can happen.

Yes, this should be debated in parliament, but we should not allow it to be all words and no action. Both sides of the political divide need to realise that the time for action is now.

Hopefully, we don’t need another pandemic to tell us that we have been forewarned. The 12MP has touched on various aspects of healthcare but is it enough? Being included in the 12MP should mean that it has all been thought through and well debated.

However, some quarters have come out to say that it is not enough, and that more should have been included. Without commenting on this, MMA says, “Work on the reforms immediately”.

Dr Koh Kar Chai is the president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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