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Withdrawal Of Medical Subsidy For Foreigners, A Boon For Locals
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 (Bernama) -- 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 Tuesday.
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.
In this regard, he hoped employers would not take lightly their obligation to take up insurance coverage for their workers.
Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) president Khalid Atan said the move should have been taken long ago as such measures had been in place in other countries and Malaysians residing there were not exempted from taking health insurance.
However, he said he hoped enforcement could be carried out to ensure employers did not shirk their responsibilities in financing the medical cost of workers when foreign workers face higher rates after this.
"At the current rate, MTUC is still receiving many complaints by foreigners that their employers failed to pay their medical cost or gave compensation for injuries sustained when working.
"We should be humane as well...remember that they came here to find better opportunities and contribute to the development of our country," he said.
news coverage in our Newswire service.
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