Health White Paper Proposing Social Health Insurance: Zaliha

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa says if Parliament approves the Health White Paper, MOH will develop a national health insurance scheme, including contribution rates, health benefit packages, and the payment mechanism for health care providers.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 – The upcoming Health White Paper, slated to be tabled in Parliament in June, is expected to feature a recommendation for the implementation of a national social health insurance programme.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa told the Dewan Rakyat today that the Health White Paper’s strategic priority is to make health care financing more sustainable by broadening funding sources, with an emphasis on creating a national health insurance scheme.

“One of the strategic cores of the Health White Paper is to ensure the sustainability of health care financing by diversifying health care financing sources, with a special focus on the development of a national health insurance scheme.

“If the mandate is obtained through the approval of the Health White Paper, the ministry will take further steps by carrying out the necessary groundwork in developing a social national health insurance scheme, such as providing contribution rates that are appropriate, developing health benefit packages, determining the payment mechanisms and health care service providers,” Dr Zaliha said in response to Tanjong Karang MP Dr Zulkafperi Hanapi’s question on the status of the national health insurance scheme.

“Therefore, I call on all Honourable Members in this august House to understand and support the Health White Paper that I am targeting to present in June, God willing.”

Dr Zaliha, a first-term PKR lawmaker, said that the current level of health care spending is “inadequate” to maintain a sustainable national health care system that can meet the needs of an ageing population with various chronic illnesses and the possibility of future pandemics.

The Sekijang MP further described the current financing of the national health care system as not optimised to make the most of Malaysia’s health care resources and is not designed to be people-friendly.

“Therefore, if the Health White Paper is accepted for further action, it will mark the beginning of Malaysia’s health care system reform journey,” Dr Zaliha said.

A national health insurance scheme is not a new concept for the government. During the Najib Razak administration’s 1Malaysia initiative in 2012, the government put forth a proposal for a social health insurance programme called 1Care, which aimed to provide more affordable health care. 

The system would have seen all private clinics and hospitals banding together for the sake of standardisation.

The 1Care proposal included a mandatory deduction of 10 per cent of one’s monthly gross salary to contribute to the National Health Financing Authority, with no option for patients to opt-out. Employers who did not participate would face legal action. 

Patients would not be able to choose their own doctor for free medical treatment. Instead, the 1Care system would assign a doctor. If patients consulted other doctors, they would have to pay the costs themselves, and doctor visits would be limited to six per year. Any additional visits would be at the patients’ expense.

Despite the proposed benefits of the 1Care scheme, various stakeholders, including healthcare professionals and politicians, opposed the proposal due to concerns about its affordability, sustainability, and feasibility. The proposal was eventually withdrawn by the government in 2013, and no new plans for a social health insurance scheme have been announced since then.

You may also like