KUALA LUMPUR: The government could be saving RM100 million a year if foreigners were to pay full charges at government hospitals which could in turn be utilised to further improve medical services.
National Council of Professors (NCP) Medical and Health Sciences Cluster head, Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Amin Jalaludin said better medical services would benefit locals as government hospital and clinic rates are subsidised as much as 98 per cent.
Dr Mohd Amin, who is also Universiti Malaya (UM) vice-chancellor, described the move of withdrawing medical subsidy for foreigners as appropriate as government medical services are among the best.
"Medical services are expensive because our hospitals have the latest and most sophisticated equipment, apart from investing in research," he told Bernama here today.
He said foreigners should be alerted of the matter when they enter the country.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam yesterday announced that foreigners would have to bear full treatment charges at government clinics and hospitals nationwide.
Foreigners, according to him, are currently charged between 30 to 40 per cent of the full cost and that the new measure was expected to help the government save up to RM100 million a year.
Meanwhile, NCP Economic and Management Cluster deputy head Professor Dr Ishak Yussof agreed that the amount saved could be ploughed back to benefit tax payers in terms of cheaper charges or other public amenities, including the education system.
He added that the measure was also in line with the government's objective of ensuring subsidy reached target groups.
"Removing the low medical charges for foreigners is easier to implement as they need to be registered before obtaining services at government hospitals.
"This is easier to carry out than controlling petrol subsidy as we are still looking for a suitable mechanism (for that)...Do we want each buyer to show his identity card when filling petrol?," he asked.
National Association of Employment Agencies (Pikap) president Datuk Raja Zulkepley Dahalan said withdrawing the cheap rates did not mean Malaysia was denying foreigners obtaining good medical services here.
He also supported the move as foreign worker medical benefits was the responsibility of the employer who should ensure each worker is covered by accident and medical insurance.
"In fact, the law requires them to take up a Foreign Worker Hospitalisation and Surgical Insurance Scheme which offers protection of up to RM10,000 annually with yearly premium at RM120," he said.
PUTRAJAYA: Foreigners are taking about 30% to 40% of the country’s entire allocation for medical treatment meant for Malaysians, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said.
“They are eating up our medical subsidy,” he said, adding that in most countries in Europe, foreigners were required to pay the actual cost.
The minister touched on the issue at a press conference after addressing the ministry’s monthly assembly here yesterday.
Last December, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya announced a plan to get foreigners, including students, to pay for their actual cost of medical treatment in government hospitals, not at a subsidised rate.
Dr Subramaniam said the plan was at the final stage, adding that it required some amendments to the Fees Act (Medical) 1951 for Foreigners.
Azih (third right) at the press conference yesterday.
SANDAKAN: The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) welcomes the recent announcement made by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Subramaniam that foreigners would have to bear full treatment charges at government clinics and hospitals nationwide.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, its president, Azih Muda, said it would be a wise move as the government could save RM100 million a year if foreigners had to pay full medical fees.
Cuepacs hopes the savings can be allocated for medicines and to add more haemodialysis machines in government hospitals.
“Cuepacs does not agree with the 30-40 per cent subsidy provided by the government to foreign workers. The subsidy should be revised as it is unfair for our people.
“Due to the enormous number of foreigners benefiting from the subsidy, Cuepacs is suggesting that the government revise the issues so the fees imposed on foreigners will be appropriate and less subsidised,” he said at a press conference after a seminar organised by Cuepacs Sabah, in collaboration with Sabah Medical Services Union (SMSU) Sandakan Branch at Hospital Duchess of Kent yesterday.