Tanjong Karang MP: Administer Social Health Insurance Under PM’s Department

After the Madani Medical Scheme was downscaled, Tanjong Karang MP Dr Zulkafperi Hanapi says a national health insurance scheme is urgent, suggesting that it be administered by a special agency under the PM’s Department. He volunteers to run it.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — Tanjong Karang MP Dr Zulkafperi Hanapi yesterday called for the immediate introduction of a social health insurance scheme, after the Madani Medical Scheme (SPM) was downscaled.

The Perikatan Nasional (PN) lawmaker – who has declared support for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim – said although SPM was a good programme, it had received only a one-off allocation and was financially unsustainable due to its high cost.

“I suggest in this august House that health financing be extracted out of the Health White Paper (HWP) to be implemented immediately through a national health insurance scheme (NHIS),” Dr Zulkafperi told the Dewan Rakyat in the debate on the motion of thanks for the royal address.

“We cannot wait for tomorrow, the 13th or the 14th Malaysia Plan, but we in the Madani government need to implement it now.”

SPM – a programme that fully subsidises acute outpatient treatment for the low-income at private general practitioner (GP) clinics – was downscaled last February 26 from nationwide expansion to the 10 districts from its pilot in June 2023.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad told Parliament that SPM, which was allocated RM100 million in Budget 2024, was expected to run out of money next month, even with the reduction in scale of the programme.

Dr Zulkafperi cited Indonesia’s social health insurance scheme – Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Sosial (BPJS) – that successfully covered 140 million residents within 10 years after it was introduced in 2014.

Indonesia’s NHIS, he noted, is administered by the presidential institution, not under the country’s Health Ministry, adding that the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognised Indonesia as among the world’s biggest countries to have successfully implemented social health insurance.

The Bersatu MP cited Turkey as another model country that launched NHIS in 2003, covering nearly all of its citizens.

“For quick and effective implementation, NHIS should be administered by a special agency under the Prime Minister’s Department and, if needed, I offer myself to run it under the direction and mandate of PMX for the sake of public interest and health,” Dr Zulkafperi said.

The Tanjong Karang MP suggested that Malaysia’s NHIS collect contributions from the government, employers, and all citizens.

“In the implementation of NHIS that covers all citizens, the B40, poor, and hardcore poor should receive subsidies for NHIS premium payments. This is appropriate and in line with the Madani government’s targeted subsidies, unlike the current situation in which the government bears nearly the full cost of health services and drugs.”

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